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'Guarantee our rights now': British in Europe call on London to act as fears of no-deal Brexit grow

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'Guarantee our rights now': British in Europe call on London to act as fears of no-deal Brexit grow
Photo: Depositphotos
12:06 CEST+02:00
Campaigners for the rights of Brits living in France and around the EU say "enough is enough" and are demanding the British government and Brussels to take steps to guarantee the rights of UK citizens in Europe after Brexit, as the alarming prospect of a no-deal divorce grows.

The campaign group British in Europe, which represents the estimated 1.2 million Brits across the EU, including 150,000 in France have written to the UK's Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

The campaigners are demanding the two sides end the "extreme legal uncertainty" and the subsequent stress and anxiety for the three million EU nationals living in Britain and the 1.2 million Brits across the EU by guaranteeing the agreements on citizens' rights drawn up by the two sides last December.

"Enough is enough, we need legal certainty now, and we ask you to do the right thing by providing it," says British in Europe and the organisation "the3million", which represents EU nationals in the UK.

Those agreements gave EU nationals in Britain and Brits in the UK the right to stay in the country where they now live, but they are threatened by the growing prospect that Britain and the EU will not reach an overall deal before the deadline for looming Brexit negotiations.

Those agreements on citizen rights which were thrashed out last year will stand for nothing if Britain and the EU continue to be at loggerheads over their future trading relationship and cannot reach an agreement on how to solve the problem of the Irish border.

But British in Europe and "the3million" say the current situation cannot go on and is taking its toll on Brits living across the EU.

"Today, the3million and British in Europe are asking you to commit to implementing and strengthening your current agreement on citizens’ rights, regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

"We have faced over two years of debilitating uncertainty and anxiety about our status, and are horrified that all the months of negotiations and colour-coded charts on our rights could come to nothing in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

"You jointly have it within your powers to end this nightmare immediately for over 4 million of us, by taking the true moral high ground and publicly committing to honouring these agreements on our rights – whatever the outcome of the rest of the negotiations.

"We thus now ask you to take citizens out of the 'nothing is agreed until everything is agreed' straitjacket."

Those citizens' rights agreement not only gave guarantees that Brits will be able to stay in France or Spain but also that the health costs of pensioners will also be covered by the British government and that their pensions would continue to rise each year.

Although the agreement did not allow for continued freedom of movement across the EU, much to the anger of campaigners.

"What we are urgently calling for is a simple, obvious solution – namely that the EU and the UK jointly agree to ringfence and commit to implement the Citizens’ Rights part of the draft Withdrawal Agreement in all circumstances, even if it is the only aspect to be agreed," read the letter. 

"The3million and British in Europe have been asking for such ringfencing since March 2017, and have provided serious legal opinion on the possibility of achieving this.5 We know it can be done if there is the political will to protect us."

The Local is asking Brits in France to tell their own stories of how the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and all the uncertainty around Brexit is impacting their lives.

Please email ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com if you would like to tell your own story.

CLICK HERE to read the full version of the letter.

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