Brexiteer Nigel Lawson faces hypocrisy claims over French residency application
A leading Brexiteer faced claims of hypocrisy after it emerged he is applying for a French residency card.
Conservative former chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby, who chaired the Vote Leave campaign during the EU referendum, said he has just started the "tiresome" paperwork required for a carte de sejour although he insisted he is not applying for French nationality.
Lord Lawson also said he expects an agreement between the UK and EU over expats and security but believes there will initially be no trade deal.
Such an agreement will follow after Britain is "fully out" of the EU and when "passions have cooled", Lord Lawson added.
Pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain latched on to Lord Lawson's French residency application, accusing him of looking "like a hypocrite".
A carte de sejour shows a person is legally resident in France and it is hoped possession of such documentation will help avoid complications after Brexit.
Lord Lawson, in an interview with expat newspaper The Connexion, said he believes the issue of Britons living in other EU countries will be sorted but noted trade is a "problem", along with the Irish border issue.
The 86-year-old said: "I think the issue could be no trade deal. There will be agreement on expats and security.
"It's not helped by the fact the current Government is weak and is not doing a particularly good job. But that's a fact of life.
"I think the most likely outcome is initially no trade deal, then after Britain is fully out of the EU and passions have cooled there will be agreement at a future date.
"I don't think there would be a bilateral deal just with France as I don't think EU law would allow it.
"It's one of the problems with the EU and why it will be easier for the UK to do deals with countries around the world, as it's easier to negotiate with one country than with the EU where different member states have different views."
Asked if he had applied for a carte de sejour, Lord Lawson said: "Yes I've just started, and don't know how it will work out but am not particularly worried.
"It comes under the category of 'tiresome' rather than 'serious'. I understand some people are worried about healthcare cover and hope it will be sorted out.
"Speaking as a Brit in France - and I'm not applying for French nationality - I am not worried."
Lord Lawson also remained defiant that Brexit will provide benefits but warned it depends how the Government of the day runs the country.
He added: "There are things we'd like to do that we can't now because we don't have the autonomy. But that control can be used competently or not.
"If it is, I believe the UK will benefit increasingly over the years, if not, we'll suffer."
Best For Britain spokesman Paul Butters said the thought of Lord Lawson applying for a French residency card "takes the biscuit".
He added: "It seemed to Lawson that no cost was not worth paying to leave. But with this news, it seems the cost will be paid by others while the former Chancellor suns himself in his luxury home in France.
"The former Chancellor looks like a hypocrite."
Pic by Gareth Fuller/PA Wire