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Tim Farron: UK expats in the EU need certainty

July 11, 2016 5:31 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has written to 7 Prime Ministers in fellow liberal sister parties throughout Europe, including the influential Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, asking for their support for a proposal to allow UK expats to reside freely in Europe even with Brexit.

Tim was the first party leader to call for the UK Government to agree that EU nationals be able to remain in the UK after the referendum. Politicians from across the political spectrum bar Home Office Ministers seem to agree with this and they have been savaged by MP's.

Next Tuesday, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tom Brake is proposing a bill to offer protections to EU citizens.

The Liberal Democrats have now called for foreign governments to do the same for UK expats living abroad.

Tim is also calling for the EU governments to not even look at plans to hike taxes on Brits with property or businesses abroad as a 'revenge' for Brexit.

The top destinations for British expats in the European Union are Spain (host to 319,000), Ireland (249,000) and France (171,000)

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron said: "I have written to these liberal Prime Ministers following discussions I have had with them recently. Both EU citizens here and Brits abroad need certainty and should not be treated as political pawns in a big political game.

"I think Theresa May needs to stop shilly-shallying and give a firm indication that EU citizens are welcome and able to stay in the UK.

"Brits working and living abroad are worried about what comes next, I am calling on these Prime Ministers to join me and offer a clear plan that nothing needs to change. I believe our nations are better and richer for this diversity and I am calling on my liberal colleagues to keep making the case."

Ends

Notes to Editors - The text of Tim's letter is below:

I am writing to ask for your support in campaigning for the rights of European citizens to continue to reside in their homes in the event of Brexit.

In Britain I have called on the government to offer all European citizens residing in the UK the certainty of knowing they have the right to stay in Britain, irrespective of if the UK leaves the European Union.

I am asking for your support in campaigning for the rights of British citizens who are residing in Europe to have the right to do so in the same circumstances.

I have committed my party to standing in the next election on a platform of securing Britain's place in the EU. I respect the result of the UK's referendum, but it does not change our party's view that Britain is stronger as part of the EU and as democrats we will offer the British people that choice again at the next General Election.

There are numerous complexities ahead in the event of Britain leaving the European Union, the triggering of Article 50 will lead to potentially years of uncertainty for my country. If we take that path much of these difficulties cannot be avoided but the lives of millions of our fellow citizens should not be a bargaining chip in this.

We must give these people who have decided to make their life in another country the assurances they need to plan for their future, and as liberals I am confident we can agree that any form of repatriation of these people should not even be considered in any future negotiations.