Campaigners for British nationals in Europe have written to Theresa May to plead with the prime minister not to throw them “under the Brexit bus” .
In a strongly worded letter, they wrote to the prime minister after her Florence speech to say they were not satisfied with what she had said and wanted a “lifetime” guarantee of their post-Brexit rights.
“If Michel Barnier, the European parliament and the EU27 member states see that the UK government is willing to throw us, our rights, our livelihoods and our children under the Brexit bus, they will have no confidence that it will recognise and protect the rights of the 3 million or any other post-Brexit obligations in the future,” said campaign group British in Europe, which represents 11 citizens groups across the EU.
They urge May to “stop treating citizens’ rights as a minor issue “that can be pushed aside in the headlong dash for a trade or indeed a security agreement” and plead with her to end the “platitudes” about their contribution to nationali life.
In reference to the UK’s offer, they also implore her to “please stop treating citizens’ rights as an immigration issue”.
With UK and EU negotiators due to start the fourth round of Brexit talks next week, the British in Europe lobby group says the uncertainty about their futures will hang over them like a cloud for life unless the prime minister delivers on her Florence in her speech that “you can carry on living your lives as before”.
“We don’t share the PM’s view that significant progress has been made on this most fundamental of issues and are thus astonished that our prime minister missed such an important opportunity to remedy this, not just for the 4.2 million citizens affected, but for the future of the UK-EU relationship post-Brexit ,” said Jane Golding, chair of British in Europe.
“We now appeal to her to listen to the voice of British citizens in the EU and all those EU citizens who make such a valuable contribution to the UK,” she said.
Golding, a lawyer in Berlin, said the offer of putting guarantees into the Withdrawal Agreement was a step in the right direction. But it would have to entail detailed law in order to mirror the “direct effect” European regulations currently have. Direct effect allows individuals to challenge national law if legislators have not implemented EU regulation properly.