Open letter to Theresa May in response to her Christmas message to Brits in EU
from Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain
December 19, 2017, Valencia, Spain. Press Dispensary. Dear Theresa,
I'm sure you won't mind me calling you by your first name, as you always use mine when you write to me. I’ve just read your Christmas message to "expats" in the local Spanish press and was rather disappointed that you didn't write to me directly.
I appreciate the update regarding the negotiations on citizens' rights - although, to be honest, I didn't learn anything new and I must raise a number of points where we don't see eye-to-eye.
Firstly, please stop the pretence that Brits in the EU have been your first priority from the very beginning and, incidentally, we do not refer to ourselves as "expats". We are immigrants, no different or better than any other EU citizen that has chosen to live in another EU country. Had you really wanted to protect us, you would have accepted the EU's initial offer on citizens' rights. Instead, in an effort to remove rights and freedoms from EU citizens in the UK, you came back with a significantly inferior offer, which resulted in a downgrading of the EU offer.
You may well be delighted with your "achievements" but if you had been listening to us, you would know we’re not equally “delighted” because what’s currently on the table is less than we have now. We moved to the EU in good faith and made life-changing decisions based on what we thought were known facts. Add to that the anger and frustration of a million Brits overseas who cannot vote and perhaps you'll understand why we’re not celebrating our good fortune.
Your letter rightly points out that a few important citizens' rights issues are yet to be concluded but incorrectly suggests we should all be reassured. I can assure you we are not! Even if the agreement stated that we would maintain all our rights and freedoms as they exist, this would still be meaningless without some assurances that any citizens' rights agreement is protected. Unless we have that protection, we will continue to be bargaining chips, except now the stakes are higher and the focus will be elsewhere – such as on trade talks.
In the spirit of Christmas, I hope you enjoy the festivities but I also hope you’ll take this opportunity to appreciate that hundreds of thousands of Brits in the EU are today as anxious and fearful about their futures as they were on 24 June, 2016. It's going to take more than a few repetitive soundbites to change that situation.
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Notes for editors
For further information please contact
Sue Wilson, Chair
Tel: + 34 696 056 328
Deputy Press Officer
Tel: + 44 7549 504281
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