EU Parliament will “pay attention to the matters The People’s Challenge has raised” – Guy Verhofstadt

As you know, we wrote to a number of the key players in the EU about the concerns we have on the way that the rights of British nationals are being ignored by both the EU and the UK in the exit negotiations.

Guy Verhofstadt has replied in a very positive and supportive manner: I fully understand your concerns. While progress has been made in the negotiations in the meantime, the current state of play is still far from the desired outcome and does not provide the much needed security our citizens need.”

The protection of the EU citizenship rights of British nationals is being dealt with by both the EU and the UK in a very arbitrary and simplistic manner. The proposals outlined in the draft exit treaty are discriminatory in the treatment of EU27 nationals and British nationals. The EU and the UK are further discriminating between the various groups of British nationals depending on their origins and/or their current place of residence.

Despite assurances from the leaders of the leave movement and various members of the UK’s government, nothing about the UK leaving the EU has turned out to be as simple and easy as we were told it would be.

The more we focus on the specifics, the details of what needs to happen, the more it is glaringly obvious that you cannot just say “Brexit is Brexit”. It is not like simply saying “abracadabra” and waving a wand to make something disappear – or appear, for that matter.

Even now the problems facing ordinary people and the impact on their lives and families are being ignored.

In this the EU is not always the benevolent, avuncular organisation it is trying to portray itself as. As an example, the EU, despite a proposal from the UK, has refused to give British nationals resident in EU27 countries guaranteed freedom of movement after the UK leaves the EU, whereas EU27 nationals resident in the UK will enjoy freedom of movement rights covering the UK and the EU27 countries.

The EU promised to protect the rights of British nationals who have exercised their EU citizenship rights, but fine words butter no parsnips. Partial protection of the rights of British nationals who are resident in EU27 countries, and continue to be resident there after exit day, is not the same thing at all.

The People’s Challenge has been working to protect the fundamental citizenship rights of British nationals since we initiated the challenge to the government over its proposed use of the Royal Prerogative back in July 2016.

We raised with Guy Verhofstadt the fact that British nationals are not just being ignored but are being discriminated against in the exit negotiations. It is not just British nationals currently living in EU27 countries who have made important life decisions about their future, their family and their finances based on the fundamental rights they hold as EU citizens.

Guy Verhofstadt responded to these concerns by saying: You rightly point out that the scope of affected people is wider than those citizens living abroad. There are many unfortunate consequences we have to address as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Citizens’ rights are a priority for the European Parliament and, while this is also dependent on the UK Government’s position, we will do our utmost to ensure the best possible outcome of the negotiations. From the moment this process started I have been convinced that some sort of special solution needs to be found for those citizens who want to maintain their ties with the European Union.

Many politicians ignore how the situation we are faced with affects and will continue to affect ordinary people and their families long into the future.

They prefer to stick to addressing the “big” issues of GDP, global influence and the sound bites of “No deal is better than a Bad deal” when talking about a “Red, White and Blue Brexit”.

Some of these things are undoubtedly important, others are just playground chants. But there is nothing more important than the protection of individuals and their rights.

Fortunately some politicians understand these issues. Guy Verhofstadt is one of those. He has long stood up for the rights of ALL EU citizens, including those being dragged out of the EU by the manner in which the UK government has unilaterally decided to implement the referendum result.

However, Guy Verhofstadt is a realist and not just a politician spouting platitudes to his audience: It will be a very difficult process but we will pay attention to the matters the People’s Challenge has raised and I can assure you that the European Parliament will continue to fight for the rights of all citizens.

There is still a long way to go and we need to have more people, not just Guy Verhofstadt, standing up for us and applying some common sense to the problem.

Also, we all have to work to move public and political opinion to the focus of the all-important issue – what is Best for the UK and its people.

We have made a start and there is very little time left to finish the job. But we can finish the job.

It is perhaps appropriate that as spring arrives there has been a glimmer, not just of hope but of realism shining through.

Just as the early shoots of spring need protecting against the ravages of late frosts, we need to protect and nurture those fragile shoots of hope and realism against the ravages of dogma and falsehood.


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Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.


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