Campaigners and MPs ask EU to ring-fence rights

The Co-Chairwoman of the British in Europe (BiE) campaign group for Britons abroad joined British MPs and lords at a meeting with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator to ask for the citizens’ rights part of the deal to be ring-fenced.

24 July 2019
By Oliver Rowland

This is so it stands in the case of a no-deal and safeguards the right of existing expats to live and work within the EU.

BiE’s Fiona Godfrey said Michel Barnier reiterated that the best way to protect rights is for UK MPs to sign off the deal.

He said the EU is ready for a no-deal, though that is not what it wants, and that the agreement cannot be reopened and parts to stand alone. It is all or nothing.

The meeting in Brussels was attended by Alberto Costa, the Con­servative MP born in the UK to Italian parents who obtained the backing of the UK Parliament for ring-fencing.

Mr Costa, the other MPs and lords now call themselves an ‘emergency taskforce on citizens’ rights’ and Mr Barnier said he would meet them again in mid-October.

Mr Costa later wrote to Boris Johnson, predicted to be the next UK prime minister, saying he risks ‘presiding over the abrupt termination of the rights of over one million of our fellow British citizens exercising treaty rights in the EU.’

For more on the Michel Barnier meeting and the letter see our online Brexit section

BiE recently gave evidence to the UK’s MP Brexit select committee in West­minster, saying that in a no-deal Brexit Britons would face different rules and rights in different states.

The hearing can be found at (video) and (transcript).

BiE groups also told Connexion of their worries after the Conservative leadership contenders said they wished to abandon the ‘Northern Irish backstop’, a key part of the withdrawal agreement, a policy which increases the chances of a no-deal exit.

The founder of the Ecreu group, Roger Boaden, said: “The looming probability of ditching the Irish backstop leading to a no-deal fills me with dread and anxiety.”


  • On going to press the pound had dropped to around €1.11 as fears of no-deal increased.
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