Rights of UK citizens living in other EU member states

The future is worryingly uncertain for well over a million UK citizens living in the EU-27 and for their friends and loved ones; and for millions of non-UK EU citizens living in the UK and for their friends and loved ones.

That uncertainty and worry is wholly down to the intransigence of the EU-27.  For months the UK has repeatedly sought a reciprocal deal whereby the EU-27 guarantees the rights of UK citizens living there and correspondingly the UK guarantees the rights of EU-27 citizens living here – but so far the EU-27 has refused.

This issue rightly remains a priority for the UK government, as the Prime Minister again confirmed on 8 February (see Hansard, below).  I am optimistic that it will get sorted out but, until it does, the worry for people will continue to weigh upon them

In Parliament, I voted against unilaterally extending rights to non-EU citizens without a reciprocal agreement from the EU-27.  Of course, I would prefer that EU citizens resident in the UK are allowed to continue living here; and that UK citizens resident in another member state be allowed to continue living there.  However, the two go hand-in-hand.  So I do not think that it is wise for the UK government to tie its hands for future negotiations by announcing now that we agree on the former (EU here) because it lessens our bargaining over the latter (UK there).

The UK government’s foremost duty is to UK citizens; in this context, UK citizens living in one of the other EU member states. Currently, there is no guarantee from the EU-27 that such UK citizens will be allowed to continue to live in those states.  In the absence of a guarantee, it would be foolhardy for the UK unilaterally to guarantee the rights of the EU-27’s citizens living in the UK.  What is needed now are reciprocal guarantees – not a unilateral declaration by the UK government which would in effect be the UK ranking the interests of non-UK citizens above those of UK citizens.

The UK has stated its preference for a two-way guarantee.  The pressure should be on the 27 now to reciprocate, not on the UK to act unilaterally to the possible detriment of its own citizens.  To me, it would be morally wrong for a UK government to put protecting the rights of non-UK citizens ahead of protecting the rights of UK citizens.

Rob Marris



Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes)(Con):

I am not alone in hearing from families long-settled here in Britain who are deeply worried that they could be separated after we leave the European Union. I know the Prime Minister will not want that to happen. Will she reassure all our constituents today that those who were born elsewhere in the European Union but settled here in the UK, married or in partnerships with British citizens will have the right to remain? [908654]

The Prime Minister:

My hon. Friend obviously raises an issue that is of concern all across this House. As she says, it is of concern to many individuals outside the House who want reassurance about their future. As I have said, I want to be able to give, and I expect to be able to give, that reassurance, but I want to see the same reassurance for UK citizens living in the EU.  What I can say to her is that when I trigger article 50, I intend to make it clear that I want this to be a priority for an early stage of the negotiations, so we can address this issue and give reassurance to the people concerned.

HANSARD, 9 February 2017, Column 427-8


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commented 2017-04-02 22:57:15 +0100
What a disgrace. This is peoples lives you are playing with, not pawns to be sacrificed if you can’t get your own way. That’s just being a spoilt brat who’d rather smash up his toys rather than share. I’ve already stopped payment for my membership after being a lifelong voter of labour, and this just confirms I was right to do so. As for adding in Conservative MP’s quotes and what that unelected PM has to say, well I’m struggling to keep this printable.
From your friendly neighbourhood ex Labour supporter
commented 2017-03-20 15:00:22 +0000
Rob is quite correct to draw attention to the need for leverage when in negotiation. Regarding EU citizens we had choice of 2 forms of leverage. The one Rob chose is the more confrontational of the two. With its I will only of you do statement it produces an atmosphere of distrust and fear of the other party getting one over us. This distrustful approach often leads to slow if not frozen negotiation. The other option is to apply leverage by setting a good example eg we believe it is right that people having settled in the UK should be allowed to stay in the UK as a right.Fullstop. The pressure on the other party to conform to this positive stance is as great as a threat.
Given that we have thousands of such negotiations in front of us carrying them out in a mood of mutual benefit will be a much better mood to enter negotiation in comparison to the low trust approach.
commented 2017-03-15 13:52:02 +0000
So why did you vote against the Lords amendments?
commented 2017-03-14 10:04:29 +0000
You have just explained how you intend to use EU citizens living in the UK as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations. Disgraceful and despicable, you should be ashamed of yourself.
commented 2017-02-09 12:14:37 +0000
I think whatever the EU does it would be unthinkable to send our neighbours of European origin “back to where they came from”, so in what way could they ever be a bargaining chip? Threats are only any use if you’re prepared to carry them out, and surely no right thinking person would. So whilst I appreciate the point made about concerns for British people living abroad, I’m not sure I follow your logic.

I speak as someone living in a street with a few new European migrants, it’s not an academic or ideological issue to me.

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