New Forward Britain campaign lobbying UK and German lawmakers over EU citizenship

Published:  3 Apr at 6 PM
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Forward Britain is a new campaign launched by UK expats living in Germany with the aim of making sure that rights to remain in EU countries are fast-tracked during the Brexit negotiations.

Described by a representative as a grass-roots movement, its stance was made clear by Mark Whiley in an interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. He explained the movement’s name, Forward Britain, is a fit description fpr its members, all of whom are forward looking, international and dreading being forced to retreat to an isolated, protectionist UK once Brexit is finalised.

The new movement is now lobbying German and British politicians, urging them to allow British expats to settle permanently within the EU after the UK leaves the 27-country bloc. Whiley is convinced the only way to ensure this is for expats to be allowed to become citizens of the European Union, no matter where they are based.

Resentment amongst long-stay expats over the refusal to allow voters who’ve lived overseas for more than 15 years to vote in the referendum is causing frustration and even anger amongst the expat community in Germany. British tour guide Heidi Leyton, living and working in Berlin, admitted she was very upset with the result, especially as she and many others weren’t able to vote to protect their chosen lifestyles in their preferred countries of residence. She said the vote was ‘such a close call’, with so many simply disenfranchised or disallowed from making their views known by the postal vote chaos.

When she moved to Germany as an EU citizen, she added, Britain’s leaving the UK wasn’t even on the horizon and the EU was ‘home’ in the same way as was her birth country. Leyton and many others are now uncertain as to what to do next, although she's now taking formal German language studies in preparation for a possible German citizenship application. Making more concrete plans at present, she feels, is an impossibility, but she feels threatened and admits she may have to return to the UK.
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