May makes unexpected plea for UK expats during Brussels summit

Published:  16 Dec at 6 PM
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Theresa May broke silence over the fate of UK citizens living in EU member states when she requested an early deal to protect their rights during an EU summit meeting.

Although May’s plea seemed to fall on deaf EU ministerial ears, the fact she seems to be finally recognising the desperate plight of over a million Britons living in the European Union came as a surprise to many. Her brief intervention failed to get even an acknowledgement from EU leaders, lending strength to the assumption the EU wants a hard Brexit, but showing she is beginning to realise expat Britons have a voice they are not afraid to use in the courts.

Over 20 groups comprising UK expats living in the EU are now active, representing the 1.2 million British citizens whose lives have been put on hold by Brexit. Many are living overseas in order to make the most of the measly UK state pension, and have already been hit hard by the post-Brexit collapse of the pound sterling. Even if they are allowed to stay, they fear their pensions will be frozen once Brexit is complete as the EU law of index-linking would no longer apply to Britons.

Healthcare is another issue, with campaigners insisting the UK government is confusing their rights with those of tourists. One group, Expat Citizens Rights in EU, has already written to the House of Lords’ EU Justice Committee on the subject, also pointing out that not all UK pensioners would be able to even afford the costs of relocating to the UK and would be trapped in poverty and isolation as a result.

Over the months following the Brexit referendum, the British government has issued no concrete details as to how it intends to deal with the crippling uncertainty felt by UK expats in the EU. Political platitudes have simply increased the anger felt by those whose lives have been put on hold by a campaign of lies based on party leaders’ personal intentions rather than the reality of leaving the EU. May’s statement at the summit may indicate she is now aware of the complications of ‘Brexit means Brexit’, but EU leaders are, at least for now, ignoring it.
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