Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has been accused of “forgetting” the more than one million British citizens living on the continent who are facing uncertain futures.
The group representing the 1.24 million expats living across the other 27 EU member states made the claim after Raab failed to respond to their requests for reassurances.
British in Europe, along with the group representing the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK, wrote to the Brexit Secretary twice last month but have not received a reply to either letter.
The groups requested a meeting with Raab in their first letter sent on July 9, the day he replaced David Davis as Brexit Secretary.
It said: “The Windrush situation has done nothing to reassure that EU citizens will not experience a similar fate whereas the lack of continuing free movement for British citizens in Europe is still a major concern, as is the registration system by which their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement will be secured.”
In a second letter sent on July 24, the groups warned: “Anxiety is now at its highest level ever.”
British in Europe raised Raab’s failure to reply on Twitter when he visited Brussels for the latest round of Brexit negotiations on Tuesday.
Hi @DominicRaab, we've sent you 2 letters about our rights. We have not yet received a reply to either. Could you look into this oversight when you are back in the office. Thanks.
From 5 million living in limbo & our friends & families https://t.co/lKHZhCyWwO
— British in Europe (@BritishInEurope) August 21, 2018
And Jane Golding, the group’s chair, told Yahoo: “Despite promises to put citizens first, we have had no response to either of our two letters to Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab requesting a meeting… we appear to have been forgotten by our own government leaving us in continued limbo.”
Under the draft Withdrawal Agreement, UK citizens already living in the EU will be able to continue living and working in the countries where they reside now.
As things stand, they will not though be able to live or work in any other EU country. And there is no guarantee about their rights under a ‘no-deal’ scenario.
Yahoo UK Finance yesterday contacted the Department for Exiting the European Union to ask why they hadn’t replied to the groups.
A government spokesperson said the department plans to reply to the letters in due course and said its officials have engaged with British in Europe throughout negotiations.
“The UK government regularly engages with UK nationals in the EU, and this year alone, government officials have engaged directly with UK nationals in over 100 dedicated events across Europe,” they said.
Raab himself has also replied to British in Europe’s complaint on Twitter:
I will double-check today – please email me the names. DR
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) August 22, 2018
British in Europe were given a meeting with junior Brexit minister, Robin Walker, last June.
By contrast, the group met EU Brexit negotiations in June and have met the bloc’s Brexit chief, Michel Barnier, on two occasions last year.