CAMPAIGNERS, business bodies and media groups are uniting against Theresa May’s refusal to guarantee expat rights to remain in Europe.
It comes after the Home Secretary warned that over a million British expats could lose the right to live and work in the EU following the Brexit referendum.
The Tory minister – and current favourite to succeed PM David Cameron – also refused to rule out three million EU citizens losing residency rights in the UK.
“There will be a negotiation here as to how we deal with that issue of people who are already here and Brits who have established a life in other countries within the European Union,” she said.
Reaction was swift and angry with the chairman of large expat campaign association AUAN, Maura Hillen, slamming the announcement.
“The majority of our members are British citizens who, faced with an uncertain future as a result of Brexit, are looking to their government for reassurance that their interests will be taken into account and defended,” she said. “This is anything but that.”
She has now backed a petition being launched by the Olive Press to put pressure on the UK government to better serve our interests.
The petition demands that the large body of expats in Europe (estimated at 1.3 million) are given an official voice in Parliament.
Incredibly, our group has no MP or other government body to represent us in London.
Derek Langley, the Vice President of the British Chamber of Commerce, in Andalucia, supported the campaign, insisting: “Anything that benefits expats rights in Spain should be encouraged.”
He continued: “I will be putting this petition to the chamber this week.”
Publisher Iain Blackwell of Essential, in Marbella, also welcomed the move, while the publisher of the Euro Weekly News Michel Euesden got on board.
Euesden said: “Of course we will definitely back expats having their own MP in Parliament.”
Meanwhile, editor of Round Town News, in the Costa Blanca, Jack Troughton, said: “It is time for our leaders to give some real guarantees about our lives here in Spain and across Europe. We stand up for expats and never has this been more important.
“The British Government has a duty to protect its citizens and their rights across the continent; politicians must now step up and be seen to take a positive and responsible role.”
Tens of thousands of expats, many who paid taxes in the UK for decades, were unable to vote in the recent referendum having lived abroad for more than 15 years.
On top of this, many thousands more were unable to vote due to registering, postal and other administrative errors.
“Yet, despite being strongly pro-Europe, we are the very ones who stand to suffer the most,” concluded Olive Press publisher Jon Clarke.
Labour is set to force a Commons vote on Wednesday to ensure the three million EU citizens living in the UK won’t be ‘bargaining chips’ in the Brexit negotiations.
The petition has been submitted to the UK parliament and will be live in the coming days.
To sign visit www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions and search for ‘UK parliament representation for 1.2 million British expats in EU post-Brexit’.
In the meantime, as the wait could be up to a week, please sign our change.org petition here.