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BiE Statement on the Deal

BiE Statement on the Deal

British in Europe is relieved that there is agreement on the future relationship between the EU and UK as a failure to reach a deal would have had serious consequences for our families and friends back in the UK. The rights that British citizens living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK would have going forward post Brexit were already settled back in January 2020 when the Withdrawal Agreement was adopted. This was ratified by the UK and EU in January 2020 and enters into full force on 1 January 2021. The Withdrawal Agreement confers a number of rights but only in the country where the citizen currently lives. It means that British citizens in the EU do not have full rights to provide cross-border services as we do now and that we will lose the right to have our professional qualifications recognised under EU rules across the EU. Above all it means that we lose free movement across the EU.

The new Agreement does not make these deficits good and we appear to be light years away from any progress in these areas. The free movement of fish has been given many, many more hours, weeks and months of attention in the future relationship negotiations than were ever devoted to considering the impact of the loss of free movement on the lives of 1.2 million UK citizens in the EU, although many rely on it for their livelihoods and to support their families.

British citizens living in Europe already lost rights at midnight on 31 January 2020 when our EU and local voting rights were stripped away as the first consequence of the departure of the UK from the EU on that date. Many of us are having to reapply for our right to continue living in the countries and communities which have become our homes - in some cases for decades - and some of us are still waiting to be able to apply for that right. As ever, we were the canaries in the coalmine and the full impact of Brexit will now start to be felt in the UK itself, as well as by us.

A deal has been done but it does not and cannot replace the enormous and life-changing benefits of EU membership and citizenship that we have enjoyed since 1973. Leave campaigners, including prominent members of the current Cabinet, promised us our lives would continue as they had always done and that we would not lose rights. This statement was false in 2016 and it is false today. Any future relationship deal is better than no deal but today is not a day to celebrate all that has been lost.

Published 24/12/2020

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