May offers reciprocal lifelong rights for both EU and UK expats

Published:  25 Oct at 6 PM
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During a recent meeting, Theresa May finally came out on the plight of UK expats, offering a possible solution.

During a September meeting with the EU Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, the PM offered EU citizens lifelong rights of residence in the UK, even if they’d left the country for years and wanted to return. In exchange, she said, the EU should allow free movement for all British expatriates living in the EU. At this time in the negotiations, the EU is only offering Britons in European Union member states the right to stay if they’re in residence on Brexit day, and the UK negotiator has stated EU citizens in Britain could lose their right to residency should they be overseas for two years or more.

Reports state Verhofstadt has urged EU Council leader Donald Tusk to take May up on her offer, as it’s the best outcome yet for expats on both sides of the English Channel. The former Belgian PM called on eurocrats last week to push for expats’ rights over the next few weeks, along the lines of unlimited onward movement for Brits in the EU 27 and the right of long-term return to the UK for EU expats, should they so wish. According to Verhofstadt, Downing Street is in agreement with him as regards the trade-off, although there are feelings that it might not be possible.

He told the press he’s pushing for the agreement in order to protect all citizens from the negative fallout of the ‘Brexit tragedy’. Some 1.3 million Brits are living, working or retiring in the 27 EU member states, with 3.2 million European Union expat citizens at present living in the UK. Other news items suggest thousands of Britons at present living in Spain are now packing up and leaving for the home country due to the continuing uncertainty as regards their post-Brexit status.
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