Representatives of millions of citizens in Britain and mainland Europe have urged both sides in the Brexit negotiations not to forget them in the event that the UK crashes out without an exit deal.
The groups, the3million and British in Europe, are demanding that UK Brexit Minister Dominic Raab and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier reach a deal on the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in the Eurozone whatever deal is struck on Brexit.
In an open letter to the two negotiators, British in Europe, which represents more than one million expats living in Europe and the3million, which speaks for the 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK, say they are “horrified” by the upheaval and uncertainty they would face in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
They claim the two sides view them as “collateral damage in a volatile and dangerous political game.” They are now demanding an end to the “extreme legal uncertainty” faced by expats on both sides.
The letter, from Nicolas Hatton of the3million and Jane Golding of British in Europe, says: “You jointly have it within your powers to end this nightmare immediately for over four 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.”
It adds: “We thus now ask you to take citizens out of the ‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ straitjacket.
“We remind you of the statements that were made about us at the start of the negotiations in 2017: “Brexit should not alter the nature of people’s daily lives.”
They remind Mr Barnier of remarks he made in May last year when he said: ““Given legal certainty is a question of respect for more than 4 million people. We first need to tackle the rights of citizens, get a fair and clear agreement”
And the letter quotes Prime Minister Theresa May from June of the same year, when she told the House of Commons: “I am making [citizens’ rights] an immediate priority at the beginning of the negotiations.
“But that agreement must be reciprocal because we must protect the rights of UK citizens living in EU member states, too.”
The groups say that the legal rights of EU expats in the Eurozone are specifically excluded from preparations for life after Brexit.
They fear the British Government is moving towards a U-turn on its previous commitment to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.