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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Phase 3a: Interviews with repatriating British citizens


This element of the research sought to examine the experiences of those British citizens repatriating to the UK from the EU/EEA since the Brexit referendum. Interviews took place between May and September 2022, and focussed on participants’ experiences of settling back in the UK, the feelings attached to this decision and their assessment of it.

The call for participants was published on the project website, which directed users towards a Qualtrics-based contact form; it was also distributed by project partner’s British in Europe, relevant advisory board members, the project’s social media channels and published in relevant Facebook groups (with prior permission from administrators). We also drew on Professor Benson’s established networks with British citizens in the EU, and contacted people who had earlier participated in our survey having agreed to be contacted for follow-up research activities.

People who left their contacts online were subsequently contacted via email by a project team member and were sent the participant information sheet and consent form – containing detailed information on the project purpose, process and procedures – alongside a request, if they consented to participate, to set up a time for an interview.  We sent one reminder to individuals who did not reply to our first email, but pursued this no further if we received no response.

Interview design

Interviews followed a semi-structured format and were broadly organised around the decision to repatriate, preparations for the move, the experience of resettlement in the UK and the assessment of the return decision. They lasted an hour on average and were audio-recorded with the participants’ permission.

Every participant was also asked to provide (voluntary) demographic information by filling up a Qualtrics-based online form.

Data Collection

Interviews were conducted online via Microsoft Teams, which is GDPR-compliant and offers recording. In total, we conducted fifteen interviews.

Post-interview processing

Interviews were transcribed and cleaned with the help of a research assistant; personal and identifying information was removed before importing the transcript to NVivo for analysis.


Interviews were thematically analysed using a coding framework elaborated starting from Professor Sigona’s work on EU citizens leaving the UK and returning to the EU/EEA after Brexit. Key themes included the relationship between the return decision and respondents’ family members in the migration country and the UK, feelings about the Brexit referendum and its impact on their own and their family lives, as well as the broader British society, identities and belongings, assessments of their life in the UK against that which they conducted in the EU/EEA, and future plans.

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