On Saturday 23 March (12.00 Plaza Margaret Thatcher, Colón, Madrid) the British in Europe group EuroCitizens will organise an event in defence of the rights of the five million Europeans in the UK and Britons in the EU and to ask for a second Brexit referendum. We intend to have fun, with activities for children, poetry and music as well as the speeches, and to celebrate our European identity which is now in jeopardy.
Because of Brexit, thousands of British and Spanish citizens have spent nearly three years living with mounting uncertainty. The imminent possibility of a no-deal Brexit makes all this even worse and affects the futures of thousands of people, especially those who are under thirty. In our opinion, this situation must stop.
EuroCitizens thanks the Spanish government for the publication of the Royal Decree 5/2019 which will ease as much as possible the transition of UK residents here to Third-Country Nationals – with all the implications that the change has for us and our families. At the same time, the British government has begun the process of giving ‘settled status’ to Europeans living in the UK.
However, the measures in both countries are unilateral and with no legal guarantee. If the UK fails to reciprocate in all of the areas covered in the Royal Decree, the Spanish government can rescind the special measures for UK citizens. Likewise, a change of UK government could mean a toughening of the requirements needed to gain settled status for Spaniards in Britain.
Because of this, British in Europe (Britons in the EU) and the3million (Europeans in the UK) are asking for the ring-fencing of the citizens’ rights included in the Withdrawal Agreement. This agreement is by no means perfect, amongst other things ending the freedom of movement of UKinEU, but ring-fencing it would give both groups the legal certainty of an international treaty.
On 27 February the House of Commons unanimously passed the Costa Amendment to ring-fence the rights of the five million. However, in its subsequent letter to the EU, the British government did not even propose ring-fencing. Meanwhile, the EU has made deals with the UK on aviation and finance, but refuses to discuss citizens’ rights.
Since the EEA and Switzerland have agreed with the UK to guarantee citizens’ rights, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a Norwegian or a Swiss citizen would have more rights in Britain than a Spaniard or a German. A profoundly unjust situation.
An alternative to ring-fencing of citizens’ rights is a People’s Vote, because to stay in the EU is the best way of guaranteeing our existing rights. Thus we are asking for a second referendum, with a franchise that includes all of the five million Britons in the EU and Europeans in the UK.
If that happens, we are optimistic about a victory for Remain. For EuroCitizens such a result would be the end of a long nightmare and would give us the possibility of continuing to live our European dream. We are Europeans. We feel European. We have exercised our European citizenship for years. And we want to continue being Europeans.