British in Europe coalition demands that citizens rights be first priority in Brexit negotiations
The largest coalition of UK citizens groups in Europe laments that Article 50 has been triggered without first guaranteeing the existing rights of over four million people who were thrust into this Brexit limbo on the day after the referendum.
The British in Europe coalition now calls on all sides to agree that the people who are most directly affected by Brexit – over one million UK citizens in the EU, and around three million EU citizens in the UK – must have all their current rights maintained. This should be the first priority of Brexit negotiators and dealt with separately to all forthcoming issues. The lives and livelihoods of so many people must not be bargained away for material gains on either side of the negotiating table.
“Over four million people – including over one million UK citizens in the EU – must be put first in Brexit negotiations, with a deal hammered out quickly to release them from this ongoing suffering and uncertainty. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU must not affect individuals retrospectively,” said the coalition’s spokesperson Jane Golding based in Berlin.
Golding added: “The existing rights of these citizens resident in another EU country before the UK leaves – must be guaranteed. This is not just the right and moral thing to do, it is also the simplest and fairest solution.“
Fiona Godfrey based in Luxembourg with the coalition added: “If UK politicians disagree, and given that the government insists any future arrangement will be reciprocal, then Mrs May must explain to the electorate exactly which rights she believes over one million UK citizens currently residing in the EU should be deprived of after Brexit.”
Both the UK government and EU27 states already agree that those resident in the UK or other EU27 countries before the UK leaves the EU must be treated differently to those who arrive afterwards. The British in Europe coalition believes this can be settled quickly and smoothly if all sides agree that their existing acquired rights are guaranteed.
“We were very heartened by the determination of Michel Barnier in our meeting with him yesterday in Brussels, to put our rights first in the negotiations,” added Godfrey. “The UK government has indicated that it too, wants to make this a priority. We would like to build a similar working relationship with the UK government and very much hope that we will be able to meet David Davis in the near future.”
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