Ex­pats' rights re­main un­der threat

Frus­tra­tion in­creases over fail­ure to se­cure post-Brexit rights

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jack Troughton

Frus­tra­tion in­creases over fail­ure to se­cure post-Brexit rights say cam­paign­ers rep­re­sent­ing Bri­tish ex­pats

FRUS­TRA­TIONS are mount­ing over the fail­ure to se­cure guar­an­teed cit­i­zens’ rights post-Brexit with “liveli­hoods put at risk”, say cam­paign­ers rep­re­sent­ing ex­pats.

An es­ti­mated 1.2 mil­lion UK na­tion­als live in Europe – the largest num­ber re­side in Spain – and over 3 mil­lion Euro­pean Union cit­i­zens are res­i­dent in Bri­tain.

How­ever, de­spite the prom­ises life would largely re­main un­changed after Brexit on March 29, next year, and the 're­duc­tion' of rights pro­posed in last De­cem­ber’s draft agree­ment with the EU, the Bri­tish in Europe al­liance stresses ex­pats are not pro­tected.

The group’s chair Jane Gold­ing be­lieves that whether ne­go­tia­tors achieve a deal or the UK quits with­out an agree­ment, only re­main­ing in the EU guar­an­tees to pro­tect Brits abroad.

And the group sup­ports a Peo­ple’s Vote – a ref­er­en­dum to ap­prove any deal struck with Brus­sels – and calls for the UK govern­ment to up­hold its 2015 and 2017 man­i­festo prom­ise to give all Bri­tish peo­ple a ‘vote for life’.

“We set Bri­tish in Europe up to fight to pro­tect all UK cit­i­zens who used their rights as UK cit­i­zens to live and work in an­other EU coun­try,” she said.

“Nearly 80% of us are work­ing age or younger and Brexit threat­ens our liveli­hoods and the lives we have built up with our fam­i­lies in other coun­tries through our own hard work...and yet more than 60% of us had no vote in the ref­er­en­dum.”

She said the 'unglam­orous, un­sexy work' never com­manded head­lines be­cause it in­volved real peo­ple rather than the 'seem­ingly in­tractable' ar­gu­ments over bor­ders and trade.

Jane added: “The pro-Brexit press and politi­cians show no in­ter­est be­cause we don’t fit their agenda, al­though they and the UK govern­ment can’t say so be­cause we are claimed to be the rea­son why the rights of EU cit­i­zens in the UK are still not guar­an­teed.

“It is funny there­fore, that, along with our sis­ter group the3mil­lion, our re­quests for meet­ings with Theresa May, the Brexit Sec­re­taries and the Home Secretary have gone unan­swered; al­though, Michel Barnier (the EU chief ne­go­tia­tor) has met us twice.”

Sell Out

She said Bri­tish in Europe at­tempted to re­main neu­tral, pa­tient and keep things in per­spec­tive but “faced with the prospect of ei­ther be­ing sold out in a bad deal or the prospect of a no deal” it was im­pos­si­ble to sit on the fence any longer.

Jane said ex­pats were promised their lives would carry on 'ex­actly' as nor­mal after Brexit; an un­der­tak­ing by first Vote Leave and by both Theresa May and Michel Barnier.

“This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant be­cause, if you are go­ing to ex­clude from vot­ing the very peo­ple whose lives hang on the out­come of a vote, then you have an ex­tra spe­cial duty of care to fight for them as a hard as pos­si­ble.”

But she said, even with a deal, there was no sign of this care in ne­go­ti­a­tions – in par­tic­u­lar be­cause “Theresa May has not fought for our con­tin­u­ing free move­ment right, which many of us rely on to pro­vide for our fam­i­lies.

“Her ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion from the be­gin­ning has pri­ori­tised re­duc­ing the rights of EU cit­i­zens in the UK over sup­port­ing ours.”

Jane ar­gued this meant rights would only pro­tected in an ex­pats cur­rent of res­i­dence and even then not all of them. “This puts our liveli­hoods at risk.”

And she said a no deal risked throw­ing the lives of many ex­pats 'into tur­moil' as they lost legal sta­tus and could only hope there was an emer­gency deal to re­tain rights.

“Our per­sonal limbo is also an apo­lit­i­cal lit­mus test for the kind of fu­ture re­la­tion­ship deal that the UK is pre­pared to fight for on be­half of its cit­i­zens...and if this is all we have got, it doesn’t look good for Brits in the UK, es­pe­cially those who hoped Brexit would mean more con­trol and a bet­ter qual­ity of life.”

She added: “As chil­dren of the Euro­pean project who have lived its ben­e­fits first hand and know what fu­ture gen­er­a­tions in the UK are set to lose, enough is enough.

“We have no choice but to ac­cept that the only so­lu­tion to pro­tect our lives and liveli­hoods – and the EU cit­i­zens in the UK – as well as those of all Brits in the UK, is to re­main in the EU.”

Jane Gold­ing

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