‘I live in Tuscany and voted for Brexit – it was a protest I don’t regret’

ROME – A British retiree living in Tuscany says he’s “proud” to have voted for Brexit and claims that his distance from the UK gave him an objective view on the issue.

Edward (not his real name) says he would like the UK to recover some of its “lost grandeur” from before “we decided to let Europe chain us”, and that he would vote Leave again.

The 65-year-old, originally from Manchester, believes he is lucky to live in a “utopia” in Italy, which enables him to judge UK-related events objectively and without personal involvement.

He says the distance allowed him to vote Leave based on his beliefs.

“I’ve now been living in Florence’s rural hills for 10 years,” he says. “I developed a detached perspective, which allowed me to see things with a clearer perspective,” he says.

While some expats have complained about post-Brexit rules around travel, visas and trade, Edward admits these were never going to be an issue for him.

“I could afford to vote Leave… the outcome of the vote, such as post-Brexit travel restrictions, would never have impacted me in any way,” he says.

The widower bought a three-bedroom rural farm just outside Florence for €150,000 (£130,000) in 2014, and put €80,000 (£70,000) into renovating it. He spends his days looking after his four-hectare property and touring Tuscany.

Edward gained Italian residency in 2015, at a time when it was a speedy and easy procedure, as the UK was still part of the European Union. He has no plans to apply for Italian citizenship as he says he still feels proud to be British.

Since he began living in Italy full-time, he has watched political events unfolding in the UK from a distance, “with an analytical, amused detachment”, he says.

“I think many Brits did what I did, although very few are willing to admit it,” he adds. “Most Leavers voted following gut feelings, not reasonable and sensible arguments. Brexit wasn’t a brain vote.

“Brexit was all about idealism, nothing concrete. Leavers didn’t care about the consequences, theirs was merely a vote of protest against the European Union, a way to vent their frustration.”

The retiree, who used to work in the IT sector in the UK, relocated to Italy to embrace a more relaxed lifestyle, and because he did not like how “London’s government was always at the mercy of Brussels”.

“It was unacceptable to see our great kingdom bend the knee to the European Commission, accept regulations and laws that limited our sovereignty,” he says.

“The UK in its millenary history never once had to bend the knee to anyone, and we became a nation way before other European countries. We deserve respect and need to recover that lost status.”

At his rural farm, where he grows premium olive trees to make extra virgin oil and several fruit trees, Edward keeps a collection of works by famous British poets.

He plans to keep living in Tuscany, but says he might consider moving back if conditions in the UK were to improve.

“The British politicians and the British government we’re stuck with are helpless fools,” he notes, “so for the time being, unless things change, I’m staying in Tuscany.”