Positive response from President re Britons in France

President Macron has expressed interest and thanks following a bid by The C onnexion and the British Community Committee of France (BCC) to seek reassurances for British people resident in France worried about the consequences of Brexit.

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Mr Macron has personally asked the minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs to consider British people’s concerns and if France may offer a response.

In a letter, the head of the president’s office says: “The President of the Republic has received your letter in which you tell him about your thoughts on the subject of the consequences of the British exit from the EU on British citizens living in France.

“Attentive to your request and the worries that inspired it, he asked me to thank you for it and to assure you that we are interested in your letter.

“As a result I have passed on your comments, on the President’s request, to M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and foreign affairs. You will be kept personally informed by him of the follow-up that may be given to it.”

It comes after Connexion sought, and received, the support of the BCC for an appeal to the president for a message of reassurance to the British community, including in the ‘worst-case scenario’ of ‘no deal’.

Connexion and BCC chairman Christopher Chantrey drafted a letter, which was then emailed to Elysée press contacts and also sent as formal letters by both The Connexion and the BCC.

Connexion editor Sarah Smith said: “We are pleased that the president has responded favourably to the letter. We know there are considerable concerns in the British community and welcome this response.”

Mr Chantrey said he thought the response was "very positive".

The letter from the president comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote an open lettter today to say she will be ‘putting people first’ as she heads to Brussels to meet the leaders of the EU countries at a summit of the European Council.

She says: “EU citizens who have made their lives in the UK have made a huge contribution to our country. And we want them and their families to stay. I couldn’t be clearer: EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay.”

The letter to President Macron said (translated from the French):

“British people in France are more and more worried by the prospect of a Brexit, which results from a referendum in which many of us did not have the right to vote (those who have been living outside the UK for more than 15 years).

They came in good faith, making use of European freedom of movement and now they are subject to unbearable uncertainties and growing fears for the future.

In Florence last week the British prime minister, speaking of citizens of other EU countries in the UK, said: “We want you to stay, we appreciate you and we thank you for your contribution to the life of the nation – it has been, and remains, one of my main goals in this negotiation to reassure you that you will be able to continue to live your life as before.”

Mr President, would you like to tell us if, similarly, you recognise the contribution of the British community of France and if you wish that they may continue to live their lives peacefully in their chosen country, as Mrs May wished for EU citizens in the UK?

Furthermore, could you tell us what the position of France would be concerning British citizens living in France in the case of ‘no deal’. How would France behave towards this population on the day after a Brexit with no deal, when British residents will find themselves stripped of their European citizenship? What will you do so that they do not become ‘illegal foreign immigrants’ from one day to the next?”

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