Ten groups representing British citizens in mainland Europe have sent an “alternative white paper” to the House of Commons and peers in a bid to ensure their rights are afforded the necessary protection in Britain’s EU exit talks. The platform has also called on UK residents in Portugal to “step up and join the battle to conserve their rights.”
To coincide with the British Government’s White Paper publication, UK citizens living in the EU presented their ‘UK Citizens in Europe-Towards an Alternative White Paper’.
This is the biggest group of British citizens’ organisations in Europe working together for the first time to call for their serious concerns to be acted on before Article 50 is triggered. The groups represent thousands of British citizens living and working across the continent.
“Following the Supreme Court ruling, UK MPs have both the opportunity and the clear responsibility to make approval of the bill to trigger Article 50 conditional on safeguarding the rights and livelihoods of over a million UK citizens living in Europe (as well as around 3 million EU citizens in the UK). This should happen at the earliest opportunity,” said co-author and German-based lawyer Jane Golding.
‘UK Citizens in Europe - Towards an Alternative White Paper’ sets out clear concerns about being able to live, work, run a business or study in the European countries where many have made lives for themselves and their families.
Fellow author Jeremy Morgan QC added that “our paper shows the complex position of individuals who have moved to another EU country. It is clear that unless all rights are preserved, many people will have no choice but to give up their homes and their lives and return to their country of origin.”
In comments to The Portugal News, platform coordinator Giles Tremlett argued that the recently presented white paper said nothing new about the rights of UK citizens in Europe.
“The government has still not shown that it fully understands our problems, nor has it named the countries which it claims are blocking a deal that would resolve the deep anxieties held by a million UK citizens currently trapped in Brexit limbo.”
Tremlett also lamented that the UK government failed to use the occasion to reassure 300,000 pensioners living in Europe that it will not use Brexit as an excuse for freezing those pensions - a matter which he said is entirely in the government’s hands, and requires no negotiating with other EU members.
“It did not. We need more than that.”
He meanwhile said that the alternative white paper is the first step towards creating a cross-Europe movement of UK citizens who wish to make the defense of their current rights the top priority of the UK government and the EU in Brexit negotiations.
The Madrid-based journalist, author and historian however added that this is not an attempt to roll-back Brexit or prevent it from happening.
“We respect the referendum result. It is about making sure that the concerns of one million UK citizens resident in the EU - about residence rights, work rights, pensions, healthcare etc.. - are taken fully into account. We do not wish to be used as bargaining chips for, for example, car parts or banking licences.
“Our members come from all political affiliations, since we are narrowly focused on maintaining the current rights of UK citizens already resident in the EU and who made important life choices in good faith, expecting that Britain would never leave. Livelihoods, families and pensions are now under threat, and must be
Giles Tremlett also made a call on expats in Portugal to follow the lead of their compatriots in Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Belgium, where there are large and growing numbers of people belonging to interest groups whose aim it is to safeguard expat rights post-Brexit.
“We are seeking like-minded groups (however large or small) or individuals who wish to join us from Portugal. It is very important that UK citizens in Portugal, who share our problems, are also represented”, Giles Tremlett concluded.
Those seeking further information can contact Giles Tremlett at british