BRITISH expat campaigners in Spain have slammed Theresa May’s offer on retaining current citizens’ rights.
Expats living in the EU are concerned the prime minister will sacrifice some of their rights during discussions.
Sue Wilson of Bremain In Spain urged May to accept the EU’s proposals rather than the 15-page plan she unveiled in the House Of Commons this week.
Wilson said: “If May wants to be ‘fair and serious’, she should just agree quickly to everything the EU has already proposed. We are merely asking to maintain the status quo, with no degradation of our rights – it’s not a matter of generosity but of justice.”
She added: “If she is proposing to limit rights and freedoms in any way, then we deserve to know which of those rights she is prepared to sacrifice.”
Under May’s plans, EU nationals with five years residence in the UK would get ‘settled status’, although it is unclear what would happen if, for example, someone had returned home to nurse a sick relative.
May’s document also indicated the cutoff date could be as early as 29 March 2017, with EU nationals arriving after that date not included in any deal
The EU insists the cutoff date should not come before the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
British in Europe, a coalition of 11 campaign groups, said it feared the views of Brits in the EU were not being heeded.
“We believe the UK government must do a lot more to show that it takes seriously its duty of care and protection to 1.2 million UK citizens in Europe. Otherwise we run the risk of being the sacrificial lambs of Brexit,” said Jane Golding, chair of British in Europe.
“Most of [Ms May’s proposal] is dealing with the immigration status of EU citizens in the UK, yet we represent by far the largest national group of people who will be impacted by the citizens’ rights deal.
“The government strategy is clearly putting our future rights at risk.”
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said May’s plans needed ‘more ambition, clarity and guarantees’.