EU Reciprocal Rights

22nd February 2017

Last week, constituents from all over the UK travelled to the Houses of Parliament to lobby their representatives about the rights of European citizens who reside in the UK following our withdrawal from the European Union.

Many have voiced concerns about whether EU citizens will enjoy the rights they are entitled to once the UK leaves the EU. I understand the anxiety and uncertainty for UK and EU citizens living in one another’s territories; residents who have built their livelihoods and nurtured their families throughout 27 states. I have been in contact with and met constituents whose lives have been enriched by their ability to travel and settle far and wide and many in my constituency who contribute to the community in North Devon and afar.

I want to take this opportunity to assure my constituents that the Government remains committed to providing certainty to EU nationals here and UK nationals in the EU as a matter of priority.

It goes without saying, that European citizens already residing in the UK make a vital contribution both to our economy and our society. There is absolutely no question of treating EU citizens with anything other than the utmost respect, recognising the contribution they make not just to our economy, but also working in crucial public services like the NHS. Without them we would be poorer and our public services weaker.

The discussions that the Government has with the European Union to agree the arrangements for UK’s exit will undoubtedly reflect the immense contribution made by EU citizens to our economy, our NHS and our schools, and in so many other ways.

The Prime Minister raised the issue of reciprocal rights for Britons overseas and EU nationals in this country in her talks with European leaders in recent months and has argued for an early agreement on this matter but the European Commission has refused. No fewer than 80 Members of Parliament wrote to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, in November to ask that this matter be resolved in the spirit of goodwill and cooperation befitting of Europe’s common values. Sadly, the response by the President was to blame the British people for exercising their democratic right to vote as they did on the 23 June 2016.

This is less an issue of principle than one of timing with a number of EU countries insisting there can be 'no negotiation before notification', and that means, therefore, that the Government cannot settle this matter before Article 50 is triggered.

I am pleased that the Government has made it clear that it wants to see this issue resolved at the earliest opportunity, as long as it can be done in both directions to guarantee the rights of British citizens who live in the EU.

Britons abroad must be part of reciprocal deal and offered the same protections and this is a priority which the Government will seek to resolve as soon as possible because it is the right and fair thing to do.

 

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2017

Saturday 2nd December
Bideford, Torrington
 
Saturday 16th December
Holsworthy, Tavistock