Bristol and Brexit

Bristol and Brexit

On 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU), via a nationwide referendum.

Nationally 52% of voters opted to leave the EU. However, in Bristol there was a 61.73% vote to remain.

In response to the referendum, Mayor Marvin Rees convened a city-wide Brexit Response Group (BRG) to fully understand the challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit. The group includes local organisations in the public, private, business and academic sectors as well as voluntary and community groups. The BRG aims to:

  • look at the economic and social impact of the leave vote on citizens and communities in Bristol and the city as a whole
  • work with partners in the city to ensure effective community tension monitoring systems are in place and provide reassurance that Bristol remains an open and tolerant city
  • actively respond to the process of Britain leaving the EU
  • secure and develop Bristol’s international reputation as a city that is open for business and can attract global investment and opportunities for citizens and businesses

The BRG has submitted an initial series of responses and calls to action to central government on funding, economic and community impact.

Bristol and Brexit guide

The submissions to central government are summarised in the Bristol and Brexit guide (pdf, 1.3MB) (opens new window) which:

  • outlines the issues at stake for Bristol
  • highlights the city’s desire to work with government, the region and other Core Cities to inform the national response to the referendum

The BRG has met several times since the referendum and will continue to meet for as long as the group thinks it is necessary. The most recent meetings have focused on how Bristol as a city is preparing for Brexit and what we are doing as an organisation to prepare for Brexit.

How we are preparing for Brexit

We have published a draft impact assessment that considers the potential implications of a no deal Brexit for the council.

This scenario planning work was requested by the Resources Scrutiny Commission. It outlines steps we have taken, or may wish to consider taking, to make sure that any negative impacts of Brexit on citizens and services are minimised, and any opportunities are maximised.

It focuses on a no deal Brexit, but this is not an indication of our anticipated outcome. It reflects prudence in planning, because we consider this to be the scenario with the most variables and the most significant short term organisational impact.

The assessment is a working draft. We are working with various stakeholders, including the Resources Scrutiny Commission, to get feedback and input.


In partnership with Core Cities and the Local Government Association, Bristol has been active in calling on the government to:

  • protect the city economy
  • guarantee citizens’ rights 
  • give cities the power to decide how replacement EU funding is spent

Information for EU citizens living in Bristol

On 15 December 2017, the UK and the EU Commission made an agreement on citizens’ rights.

The agreement means that EU citizens living lawfully in the UK and UK nationals living lawfully in the EU by 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and enjoy broadly the same rights and benefits as they do now.
The agreement says:

  • close family members will be able to join after the UK has left the EU. This includes spouses, unmarried partners, children, grandchildren, dependent parents and grandparents. Children born or adopted outside of the UK after the 29 March 2019 will also be covered
  • people will be able to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing settled status, more than double the level of absence allowed under current EU law. There will be the same reciprocal protection for UK nationals living in the EU
  • professional qualifications (for example for doctors and architects) will continue to be recognised where these are obtained before the date of the UK’s departure from the EU
  • it will be easy to apply for settled status and there will be a full right of appeal
  • EU citizens who already hold a valid permanent residence document will be able to have their status converted to settled status free of charge

The draft withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU would guarantee the existing EU residence and social security rights of the 3 million EU citizens in the UK, and the 1 million UK citizens living on the continent.

New process for applying for settled and pre-settled status

If you’re a European Union (EU) citizen, you and your family will be able to apply for settled or pre-settled status. This will mean you can continue living in the UK after December 2020.

Rights for citizens of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are still being negotiated.

The EU Settlement Scheme will open fully by March 2019. The deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021. 


The fee to apply will be:

  • £65 if you’re 16 or over
  • £32.50 if you’re under 16

It’ll be free to apply if:

  • you already have valid indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK
  • you have a valid permanent residence document
  • you’re applying to move from pre-settled status to settled status
  • you’re a child in local authority care

The Mayor of Bristol has stated that the council will fund the costs of any council employees who wish to seek EU settled status.

Find more information about the process in applying for settled and pre-settled status on the government’s website. You can also sign up for email updates.

Other sources of information and advice

A European funded project called Living Rights focuses on hate crime and making EU nationals aware of their rights in the UK.

As part of the Living Rights project, the Law Centre Network has produced leaflets on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.