CITIZENS' RIGHTS AFTER BREXIT
I believe that both EU Citizens in the UK and UK Citizens in the EU must be guaranteed the same rights after Brexit as they have now.
The Conservatives were wrong to reject the EU's offer to protect the rights of EU Citizens, including UK Citizens living elsewhere in the EU, for life.
I signed the #HomeIsHere pledge to fight for the right of EU Citizens living in the UK to remain in the UK after Brexit. I will also be working to ensure that consumer rights and environmental protections guaranteed under EU law are protected, and for workers' rights to be enhanced after the Brexit process.
I wrote to the Brexit Secretary about my consituents' concerns that EU Citizens could lose some of their rights in the UK.
Here is the speech I gave calling for UK Citizens in the EU to keep their rights after Brexit.
UK Nationals in the EU: Rights — [Mr Gary Streeter in the Chair]
Part of Princess Royal Hospital Telford – in Westminster Hall on 12th September 2017.
"It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Streeter.
In August, I visited Cyprus, where my parents were born. During my visit I had the pleasure of meeting the British high commissioner. I was surprised to learn from him that more than 40,000 UK citizens live in Cyprus, which, as hon. Members will be aware, is an EU member. Some of those 40,000 citizens are retired people who have decided to spend their autumn years in the glorious sunshine by the Mediterranean, enjoying the delights that the island has to offer. All is well and good, as long as we remain in the EU, but a number of unanswered questions are causing great uncertainty and concern.
The fear is that, to get tough on immigration, the UK Government could marginalise those UK citizens’ rights. For example, at present EU citizens automatically have the right to have an elderly parent, sick relative or EU spouse join them in the UK, and that is reciprocated in other EU countries. If that right were to be curtailed it could have a devastating effect on UK citizens settled in EU countries, who would not be able to have their family members join them. In June the Prime Minister rejected the EU’s offer that the rights of all EU citizens affected by Brexit, including those of UK nationals living in other EU countries, should be protected for life. She made in return a far weaker proposal, which left UK citizens abroad concerned and confused as to why the UK Government was throwing away their rights.
Healthcare is another issue of great concern to UK citizens living in the EU. As we get older we tend to be more reliant on healthcare, and it is of huge benefit to have the blue European health insurance card. I have one here, and it means that were I to fall ill abroad I would get the healthcare I needed, even without travel insurance. Settled UK citizens living in EU countries, who might have long-term ailments and conditions, could find that the withdrawal of that benefit was critical to their health. Would they have to go back to the UK to receive medical care? What if they were not registered with a GP? Would they be able to get access to the treatment they needed in the UK? At present the UK reimburses UK pensioners if they are treated in another EU country, but if that arrangement were stopped and the UK citizen’s sole income was the state pension they could be left with crippling hospital bills to pay. What if the UK citizen was married to a non-British, non-EU citizen? Could they bring them back to the UK, if they needed urgent medical treatments there?
There are many other unresolved issues in the negotiations, such as the mutual recognition of professional qualifications for workers, the complexities of the two-year rule and the rights of frontier workers, to name but a few. The bottom line is that the Prime Minister and her Government have been woefully bad at negotiating a good deal for UK citizens abroad, by trading away their rights for the chance to control immigration. The offer of protection for the existing rights of all EU nationals affected by Brexit should have been grabbed by the Prime Minister with both hands. At a stroke, that would have reassured and calmed the fears of UK citizens and EU nationals living in the UK."