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Brexpats accuses Theresa May of denying basic human rights

Anne with Brexpats member Jenny Crespo with the letter.
Anne with Brexpats member Jenny Crespo with the letter. / SUR
  • A letter sent to British prime minister claims she has totally overlooked the existence of foreign residents living in the EU

Brexpats in Spain, the organisation set up to defend the rights of European expat residents in the lead-up to the forthcoming Brexit, has written to British prime minister, Theresa May, to express the group's disappointment concerning the treatment of the 1.2 million British passport holders living in the EU.

Following Theresa May's speech in September, president of Brexpats, Anne Hernández, accused the prime minister of "totally overlooking the existence" of foreign residents living in the EU, claiming that it was "one of the most calamitous mistakes she could have made".

The letter highlights the fact that the organisation backs May's announcement to support EU citizens living in the UK, even in the event of a no-deal, but condemns her for offering "no words of comfort or solace for those who have been living in limbo for 27 months without being able to plan for their futures".

The letter points out that many of the Brexpats members are worried that they have still not been granted the promised, and long awaited, 'vote for life'. It goes on to say that after 29 March 2019, British citizens will not be able to vote in the EU elections or the local elections of their EU country of residence, which, Anne Hernández claims, "has denied us a basic human right".

"Not mentioning us in her statement on Friday has just proven to us how little she actually cares. Our patience is running very thin. Theresa May's announcement was the straw that broke the camel's back, and just reinforced our belief that we are not even being considered: 1.2 million British passport holders are being totally ignored," Anne told SUR in English.

Time for compassion

The letter demands that the time has come to show compassion and to accept the duty of caring for British citizens living in Europe, and to ensure that they are considered in the negotiations and "not just cast aside as they have been to date".

Several British expats have also showed their anger at May's recent announcement. Brexpats supporter, Michele Fowler, said, "I listened to the speech and was appalled that we were completely left out. I would think many of the people who moved to work and retire to Spain and other countries in the EU had voted for the Conservative party at some time, but this was a lesson on how to lose a large chunk of your supporters and electorate in one easy rant."

Michael Soffe claimed, "It is time for Theresa May to stop using EU immigrants in the UK and UK immigrants in the EU for political point-scoring," while Clare Smyth argued that, "All would have been sorted had Theresa May not put her political survival and the demands of the DUP ahead of the needs of the country."

British pensioner, Brenda Lee, said, "We are very worried at the possibility of losing free healthcare here; to say we are frightened at what could happen is an understatement."

Anne Hernández expressed her worries and claimed she was not hopeful of receiving a satisfactory explanation.

"I believe the EU suggested back in February that the rights of citizens (of the EU in the UK and of the UK in the EU) should be agreed and were taken out of the equation, leaving them to negotiate the exit deal. But Theresa May categorically declined, leaving us to continue thinking that we are just being held in reserve as bargaining chips. She has weakened and now pledges support for the EU citizens in the UK but no mention of us. I realise she cannot enforce that, but a mere mention of her hope that the EU will reciprocate would have gone such a long way," Anne explained.

The letter was drafted following Theresa May's defiant speech in front of cameras at 10 Downing Street last month, when she demanded the EU showed respect to the UK, insisting that they needed to understand that she would not "overturn the result" of the EU referendum. However, she failed to address the problem of the British citizens living in Europe.