Last week the EU granted the UK another three month extension until 31 January 2020 and the next day, a new general election was announced.
The outcome of the UK general election on 12 December is critical for the future of the 1.3 million Britons in the EU, as well as for their families, particularly non-EU family members. So the focus of our campaign until 12 December will be on the general election and voter registration.
In all Brexit scenarios, even with a Deal, we lose important rights. The only way to guarantee that we keep all of our existing rights, including rights like free movement, and the right to work across the EU, is for the UK to remain in the EU so that we remain EU citizens. And the only way for this to happen is to elect parties that expressly support Remain or the holding of a Second Referendum. Pro-Brexit parties will take the UK out of the EU as quickly as possible, with the risk of No Deal at different stages of the process. If this were to happen, the best case scenario for British citizens in the EU would be that the UK exits with a deal, because no deal would be a disaster for us.
The majority of us (just over 60%) cannot vote due to the unfair fifteen-year rule, against which we have campaigned vigorously. However, we estimate that around 40% of Britons in the EU can still vote. Your vote could have an enormous impact on December 12, especially if you are registered in a marginal constituency – and with a five-party race there are many more of these than in a typical general election. And your impact will be even greater if you write to your MP to ask them to support our citizens’ rights asks (we will be posting these on our website and social media shortly).
Those of us who cannot vote can also help out by encouraging fellow Britons in the EU to register and vote. When doing this, emphasise the huge loss of rights that they and their children will face in all Brexit scenarios. Of course, you can also try to persuade at least five friends and family back in the UK to contact their MPs about our rights, by stressing the impact Brexit will have on you personally – and perhaps on them too if they are your parents who might need care in the future (again we will be posting issues for friends and family to raise on our website and social media shortly). And remember that, if you have a child studying at a UK university, they can register to vote – and it is not essential to have a National Insurance number, as other means can be used to verify their identity.
As we are political party neutral, we will not be endorsing any particular party but we are providing information to our members about the tactical voting tools available. We encourage those of our members who can still vote to use the tools available in order to make informed choices and the best use of their vote possible.
Finally, we want to urge all our members to continue to prepare for all scenarios, including the worst case scenario of a no deal, even if we now have some breathing space due to the extension until 31 January. Three months pass quickly as we all know and we all need to be sure that we have done everything we can to be prepared. BiE will in parallel continue to monitor progress on no deal contingency plans for citizens in the EU 27, as well as plans in the event of a deal.
But we cannot miss out on the opportunity of the general election to make sure that our voices are heard!