Letter to Financial Times

Today’s letter to the Financial Times in full:

Sir, It is with regret that we note that citizens’ rights — the third pillar of the Brexit divorce settlement — have fallen off the political and media radar, including in this newspaper.

While we appreciate the high quality of the FT’s Brexit reporting, it is disappointing to see it accepting the EU and UK line that they are in “touching distance” of “shoring up” the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, and UK nationals living on the continent.

As representatives of the 4.5m people who will have to live with whatever compromise is negotiated on our behalf we strongly disagree that a deal is in sight. Not only has Brexit secretary David Davis failed to respond to our requests to meet us on numerous occasions, but both sides are still engaged in horse-trading over our futures, while pretending otherwise.

What’s on the table will not allow those directly affected by Brexit to carry on their lives as before, which Theresa May and Michel Barnier said is their objective. The main sticking points are freedom of movement for Britons in Europe and life-long right of return, and the UK’s insistence on dragging EU nationals in the UK into a hostile environment of UK immigration law without European Court of Justice oversight. We do not expect these issues to be resolved in the next two weeks, meaning they will be kicked into phase two of the talks, where they will almost certainly get lost amid others.

These are not trivial concerns. The lives people have built for themselves by exercising their EU citizenship rely on a bundle of interlinking rights, similar to the kind used to construct a tower in Jenga. If you remove just one block from the tower, it risks bringing the whole edifice crashing down.

Not having certainty or control over our futures is bad enough. But to be told a deal is imminent when we know it will be unworkable for many is unacceptable, particularly when it will also be used to talk up progress in comparison to other seemingly intractable issues.

Jane Golding
Chair, British in Europe
Berlin, Germany

Nicolas Hatton
Chair, the3million


2 thoughts on “Letter to Financial Times”

  1. Thank you Jane for some clarity.
    What a shambles – never thought as a Brit expat with over 250yrs of traceable ‘English heritage’ (thank you Ancestry) I would be told I don’t ‘belong’ in my mother country once I gave been absent for 5 yrs ?

    1. “I don’t ‘belong’ in my mother country once I have been absent for 5 yrs” – this alarms me! I had not understood this to be the case, only that as a Brexpat resident of France, if I am absent from France for 5 years, then my residency in France may lapse. Surely we can go home to Blighty whenever we like. I have English, Welsh and Irish heritage, and was born in Scotland. If Scotland leaves the UK and joins the EU, I’m applying for a Scottish passport!

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