Expatriate group coalition slams UK government over lack of communication

Published:  6 Mar at 6 PM
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Spokespersons for a coalition of 12 UK expat groups have accused the British government of misleading parliament over efforts to protect the post-Brexit rights of British nationals settled in EU countries.

A coalition of 12 campaign bodies representing UK expats across Europe is condemning the British government for lying about having been in contact with the groups. The UK government’s Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) claims it’s engaging with expatriate groups, but campaign founders deny having been approached and claim their attempts to establish contact with DExEu have been ignored.

Representatives of the Expat Citizen Rights in EU (Ecreu) coalition representing 32,000 Brit expats living in European member states told the Guardian newspaper that no-one for DExEU had contacted them since the referendum, in spite of their repeated requests for information. Ecreu is now the largest pro-expats rights organisation in Europe, and is working on behalf of British citizens in Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Founder Dave Spokes told the media he believes the PM and David Davis’ signing of the white paper and its presentation to British MPs was a deliberate attempt to misleed parliament. The paper included a statement that ‘the secure status of EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in EU states was an early priority’, adding that ‘we have engaged a range of stakeholders including expatriate groups to ensure we understand the priorities of UK expats in Europe’.

Another Ecreu founder, Roget Boaden, told David Davis he was surprised about the claim of communication with expat groups, as he’d been trying to arrange meetings with government officials without success. He asked Davis to state exactly when he would be willing to meet with and work closely with the coalition.

Bremain in Spain’s Sue Wilson agreed DExEU had not contacted the group, with Guardian editor Giles Tremlett saying DExEU officals had been scheduled to meet with concerned British expats in Mijas at the end of last week, but had failed to appear at the pre-arranged venue.

A government response stated embassy staff in affected EU countries had held meetings with expats on a number of occasions, but the expat feeling is that making their points to those who are orchestrating Brexit rather than to career diplomats is more likely to achieve results.
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