Brexit – a view from the Continent

For the 1.3 million British migrants living in the EU, the past couple of weeks have been pretty eventful. Many of us have watched and listened (in horror) from afar whilst Brexit and Article 50 have been discussed in parliament. We’ve heard that it’s “the people’s will” and that Parliament should not ignore the referendum vote. Yet many of us did not have the vote in the referendum, as we have lived for too long outside of the UK. We saw an attempt to guarantee the rights of European citizens living in the UK defeated, even by Labour MPs such as Gisela Stuart, who is on record as supporting their rights. An amendment to force the government to support British migrants, proposed by the Liberal Democrats, was not even taken. Many of us are starting to be seriously worried about the way forward.

Recently I was told that it was the European Union that is blocking progress on recognising the situation of individuals and also that UK citizens were being used as bargaining chips. If anything, it is the frustration with the British government’s lack of communication that has led to this situation. Many countries, except apparently France and Germany, are prepared to come to an agreement. The common Franco-German position, as well as that of the European Commission, is that there can be no discussions until PM Theresa May has formally invoked Article 50 and declared that the UK will withdraw from the EU. On the contrary, both countries are clear that they have no intention of “expelling” British nationals living in their countries, many of whom have jobs and families. So why should we be afraid?

The real discussions will come in the next few months. What rights will British citizens be able to keep? Many of us have jobs, pay into local security systems and health care premiums. There are others who have retired. They rely on pensions being paid from the UK and access to local health care based on current reciprocal arrangements under which the local health care providers back charge the NHS. Will these payments continue after Brexit? If not, then most will have no access to health care unless they take out their own insurance (which may be unaffordable for pensioners). And what happens if someone wishes to bring their elderly parents from the UK to live with them? No problem at present, as I found out a few years ago. The parents could, as EU citizens, enrol into a public health scheme at local rates with any additional premiums being paid from the UK. Will this continue?

British pensioners living in countries such as Australia or Canada know that their state pensions are frozen at the rate on the date on which they left the country. Those moving to EU countries continue to receive cost-of-living increases. There’s no justification for this difference – and what will happen in two years’ time?

The results of a survey of 5000 Brits living in the EU, to be released in the coming week from the Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats (BELD), will show that the British community in Europe is not just made up of wealthy retirees, but reflects the British population at large. Many are economically active and most see themselves living in Europe for the foreseeable future. They are all looking for more certainty in their individual situations. The Liberal Democrats’ support for British migrants’ rights has not gone unnoticed and BELD membership has soared in the last few months to over 1000 (not bad for a “local party”). We are counting on the Lords’ support in the continuing debate.

As for me, I’m following many others by applying for German nationality. I’ve passed the language test with flying colours and only got one question wrong in my citizenship test. I need to provide a one page biography, a certificate of good conduct, and the usual birth certificates. Und anschliessend bin ich Deutscher….

Not every Brit in the EU has the option that I do. It’s them that we must stand up for and make sure that they aren’t left unrepresented and in the dark.

* Robert Harrison is a member of the Liberal Democrats and the German FDP. He was a candidate for the European Parliament last year on the FDP list and has stood for the local council several times. He will be in Bournemouth if anyone would like to speak in more detail about his experiences.

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48 Comments

  • Little Jackie Paper 15th Feb '17 - 9:41am

    ‘The common Franco-German position, as well as that of the European Commission, is that there can be no discussions until PM Theresa May has formally invoked Article 50 and declared that the UK will withdraw from the EU.’

    That has always seemed a very, very strange view to me. It is almost designed to make things difficult for individual people and prolong instability. I’ve not heard any compelling reasoning given about why that view has been taken. Certainly my Hungarian friend is less than happy about the Commission’s view.

    The European Parliament’s briefing paper p3 (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/577971/EPRS_BRI(2016)577971_EN.pdf) says, ‘The formal withdrawal process is initiated by a notification from the Member State wishing to withdraw to the European Council, declaring its intention to do so. The timing of this notification is entirely in the hand of the Member State concerned, and informal discussions could take place between it and other Member States and/or EU institutions prior to the notification.’

    Regardless, I suspect that there will be a sensible outcome here.

  • The EU position on this is very logical. Today, all EU citizens enjoy the right to reside anywhere in the EU. In the UK, an opinion poll resulted in a majority favoring to leave the EU, and one part of the legislature has now given the UK Government its permission to express this formally to the EU. Still, nothing of international substance has happened. On which basis shall the EU do anything today, please?

    I find it ridiculous to blame the EU now for a limbo unilaterally caused by the UK. Clearly, no partial agreement can be formally reached, if the UK has not done anything tangible that would simply start negotiations about this status quo which, until 2 years after such event, guarantees all these rights. It would be up to the UK, the initiator of this uncertainty, to give a unilateral guarantee. It’s absence can rightly be criticized, not a “Franco-German” position to uphold the status quo until these confused islands tell them in some clarity what they want.

  • It is the EU who was dragging their feet over coming to an early agreement on UK Migrants living in EU member states.
    They refused to even discuss it until after article 50 has been invoked.

    Theresa May and our Government had a duty of care to protect UK citizens living in the EU and ensuring that they receive the same rights after we leave the EU.
    The EU, especially Merkal, made them a bargaining chip, not the UK and certainly not Theresa May, who has tried numerous times to talk about an early agreement on settled migrants and has been rebutted every time.
    This unfortunately means that the UK could not unilaterally agree to the rights of EU migrants living in the UK because that would have left the government perilously close to failing to obtain the same rights for UK citizens, should the EU decide to be difficult once negotiations begin, that would have caused outrage and ex-pats would have rightly said they had been failed and let down and remainers would be shouting from the rooftops

    The UK / Leavers / Government are not responsible for this situation, it is your beloved EU in all it’s glory with Germany at the helm playing a power trip.

    It’s a sorry state of affairs when Germany was partially responsible for encouraging the mass migration crisis across Europe by saying that Germany would welcome millions of refugees and migrants, causing absolute chaos for other EU member states, but at the same time she refuses to come to an early talks / agreements on UK / EU Nationals, living in EU member states.

  • Tony Greaves 15th Feb '17 - 10:52am

    This is of course rubbish. Just read Mrs May’s speeches.

  • I see the brave Brexiteers are blaming it all on the EU. I suspect they’ll be trotting out that excuse a lot over the coming years. We are poorer, blame the EU. The health service is collapsing, blame the EU. They won’t let me move to my wife’s country, blame the EU. Of cause the blame game can be played both ways and I and I expect an increasing number will be blaming you.

  • Bill le Breton 15th Feb '17 - 11:20am

    Well James, anyone who didn’t expect “Britain’s skills and ****capacity***** on defence and intelligence issues” would be a key linkage in the unspoken aspects of negotiations was naive.

    This also seems significant: http://www.politico.eu/article/britains-odd-new-power-couple-philip-hammond-david-davis/

  • Robert is a bit jumbled about the two groups of people and what the UK government can achieve alone. The reason the “attempt to guarantee the rights of European citizens living in the UK” was defeated, and why Gisela Stuart did not support the Bill, was that this would not protect the rights of Brits living in Europe. It is a question of jurisdiction. The UK only has power to decide who lives here in the UK – it has no power elsewhere. It can either (i) unilaterally guarantee EU citizens can stay in the UK post-Brexit, and then simply ask the other countries nicely if they could do the same for Brits abroad, or it can (ii) try to do a mutual deal now whereby both groups can stay put. In the latter, the European citizens here are leverage in that deal. Mrs May has been trying to achieve option (ii).
    It is an outrage to describe anyone as leverage and, for that reason, many consider option (i) the best. It is a good option – 3 million people living in the UK would breathe easy again, and possibly the levels of indignation about immigration on both sides might start to subside…. The problem is that it sells the Brits abroad down the river.

    It boils down to who is more important: EU citizens here or Brits abroad, or should they should be treated equally. If EU citizens, then press for a unilateral guarantee that they can stay here post-Brexit, and stuff the Brits abroad. But if the Brits are at least equally as important, then only option (ii) is possible.
    Then it’s a question of when. Mrs May wants to deal with this now but option (ii) requires negotiation. Some countries are refusing to talk. It is disingenuous to say that their position is “logical”. It is logical but it is also rigid, unnecessary and inhumane. There is absolutely no reason why France and Germany or any country has to wait until formal service of the Art 50 notice before discussing this stand-alone issue and reach agreement in principle, pending service of the notice.

  • Paul D B Williams 15th Feb '17 - 3:08pm

    Matt seems to have a convenient (for him) selective memory. I took a second to look back at what Mrs May said back in 2016. In Euronews 20th July it was stated that “Theresa May’s position immediately after the referendum was that the status of the estimated three million EU nationals in the UK, like that of the 1.2 million Britons living in EU countries, would be factored “into negotiations”. The Spectator reported it like this on 23rd July “But Mrs May, who opposed Brexit, has since declared that the fate of our immigrants is now an open question. They might be given permission to remain, she says, but not until the EU offers the same assurances to Brits living on the Continent. With this, the Prime Minister has put the skids under every EU national living here. This was never supposed to be what Brexit was about. But oddly, under Theresa May, it is now.” Mrs May made EU citizens in the UK and U.K citizens in Europe the issue. No one else!

  • “Many countries, except apparently France and Germany, are prepared to come to an agreement. The common Franco-German position, as well as that of the European Commission, is that there can be no discussions until PM Theresa May has formally invoked Article 50 and declared that the UK will withdraw from the EU.”

    It should be noted the first round of negotiations are between the UK and the EU, not individual member states. Thus in the first instance the EU can negotiate on the status of EU citizens in all member and ex-member nations. on the behave of ALL member states. Hence gaining an agreement with the EU could mean that EU citizens living in Britain may continue to live in Britain AND UK nationals can continue to enjoy residency in ANY EU member nation.

    However, if the UK-EU do not reach an agreement as part of the Article 50 negotiations, the UK will leave the EU with no agreement in place. Then, with the UK outside of the EU, the individual member nations will be free to determine their own policy regarding the movement of UK nationals…

    Hence if the source is accurate and France and Germany are not wanting to come to an agreement, it is in the interests of the UK and non-UK EU citizens residing in the UK to increase the pressure on the EU to broker an agreement that has French and German support…

    However, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Article 50 negotiations are about the UK leaving the EU, they are little to do with our commitments to the EEA/Single Market…

  • @frankie

    “I see the brave Brexiteers are blaming it all on the EU. I suspect they’ll be trotting out that excuse a lot over the coming years. We are poorer, blame the EU. The health service is collapsing, blame the EU”

    Brexiters are not and will not blame the EU for the things you say once we have left.
    But there is no denying that this situation over settled migrants IS ENTIRELY caused by the EU as they REUSED to even enter informal discussions on this one and only matter until article 50 is invoked.
    People who support leave do not regret their vote.

    What have you got to say to France, Germany and the EU about refusing to come to an early agreement on UK Migrants living in EU member states? Are you going to be a voice for these people? Or are you only interested in UK/EU citizens protections living currently in the UK and EU citizens still living in the EU?

    Annabel puts it perfectly

  • Arnold Kiel 15th Feb '17 - 5:34pm

    matt, Anabel, sure, it’s all the EU’s fault, not only Brexit itself, but any procedural problems that come with it. You (and your Government) still don’t understand: the UK needs resolution with the EU including 27 member states and their parliaments. Maybe spelling it out in detail will help you understand how non-sensical your viewpoint is.

    UK: “listen, EU, we have had this referendum and, after concluding our parliamentary procedure, are likely to trigger Article 50 in 6 weeks. As you know, we want to end freedom of movement. Legally, this has nothing to do with foreign EU residents here, because their immigration was legal at the time, but to be sure, let’s do a quick deal. So, please, assemble your negotiating team immediately and let us strike a deal tomorrow. We can ratify it anyday, and you 27 will surely find a way in a few weeks time. You just need approval of 65% of countries/population, or better, ratify it unanimously in 27 member parliaments, no problem. Ah, yes, you might also have to somehow get approval for approving something currently still in force under EU-law, and also for splitting Article 50 negotiations in two separate parts which shall stand independently from each other (and one, ideally, before we have even triggered Article 50), but I am sure you 27 will find a quick and pragmatic way to do that.

    By the way, in case this helps, we have vastly sped up our parliamentary procedures by having a referendum first, and then declaring opposition undemocratic hostility to the people; our Government now acts at the speed of light. Anyhow a great idea for you slow bunch…

  • Arnold, I do understand that the EU itself and all the other countries in the EU have to agree to the proposal. And I do also understand and regret that the government has made a PR mess of the whole referendum and decision to leave. There was no need for any hostility towards the EU at all, on our side at least. Mrs May could have done a lot better on that score. She may have felt the need to earn some Leaver stripes with the public, but given the government’s majority, she really didn’t need to worry about that – it was much more important for the country for her to be civil to the EU, and to ensure that all other UK politicians were too, and she has failed in that respect.
    Re the need for the EU/other countries to agree, you are right about the unwieldy official process (and people wonder why the country voted to leave) but it is glaringly obvious that agreement in principle is all that is required at this stage. All the governments of all the countries, and the EU, could easily sign an agreement to the effect that following Brexit, all EU citizens will retain the right to reside where they currently live, regardless of whether it is in their country of birth. Although eventually ratification by parliaments would be required, a simple inter-governmental agreement now would go a long way to reassuring people that the political will is there. And it would be very hard indeed to go back on. Most EU citizens in the UK have been here long enough to qualify for permanent residence anyway, if only the Home Office would get its act together.
    There is a human rights angle here that I am hoping someone will pick up on, to force all the governments to sign up to such an agreement. I’m sure none of the relevant governments want to be put in the dock at the ECtHR on this issue.

  • Matt,

    i believe you after all your leaders are noted for their truthfulness. Boris 350 million Johnson and Dr Nuttall being prime examples. You may not trot out the EU as an excuse but I don’t believe the likes of them won’t.

  • @frankie

    All my leaders? I can assure you that Boris Johnson, Paul Nuttel, Farage, Theresa May, none of these are “my leaders”
    I have never voted Tory or UKIP in my life.

    I am a floating voter, traditionally more Labour {until Corbyn took over} but have also voted Liberal Democrat. Actually I identify quite a lot with with Liberal Democrats on a lot of issues, apart from on Europe where we are clearly poles apart.
    I am on the centre left and I guess would be considered moderately authoritarian.

    according to I side with, I am
    Extremely Keynesian
    slightly imperialism
    slightly protectionism
    moderately collectivism
    slightly socialism
    strongly big government
    moderately secular
    moderately progressive
    slightly tougher
    moderately militarism (not sure how that happened) even though I support trident renewal
    moderately regulation

    I am passionate about leaving the EU as I believe with my entire being that it is bad for the country and bad for future generations.

  • Roger Boaden 16th Feb '17 - 8:17am

    I’m cross today.
    I’m fed up with being classified as ‘negotiated reciprocity’.
    The French Government do not pay my State Pension.
    The French Government do not provide annual uprating for my State Pension.
    The French Government do not supply me with an EHIC card.
    The French Government do not provide exportable benefits.
    The UK Government provides those things which are of importance to me right now.
    So, please Mrs May and Mr Davis, stop behaving like playground bullies.
    For God’s sake stop making these ‘demands’ of ‘reciprocity’.
    Every day UK Citizens in France get their Carte de Séjour Permanent.
    The French give this permanent right to stay freely – there is no problem for them.
    The EU 27 do not see this as a key agenda item.
    They know we are protected, for the moment, by EU Law.
    Our biggest worry is about what happens when your ‘Great Repeal Bill’ rolls into town, and begins stripping away those EU Laws which protect us, one by one by one.
    It’s not just me who feels this way.
    There are now more than 6,500 signed up members for ECREU – http://www.ecreu.com – who have the same kind of fears for the future.
    I want a firm promise that the UK Government will never take away my rights as a UK Citizen, wherever I choose to live.

  • Arnold Kiel 16th Feb '17 - 8:45am

    Annabel,
    “All the governments of all the countries, and the EU, could easily sign an agreement”…

    You know this is impossible nonsense which has never happened before. Do you think number 28 (the UK) would ever have approved such a thing without tabling some demand?

    Firstly, too many Governments are afraid of their populist anti EU-movements (greatly encouraged by Britons), secondly, why help May in her dishonest claim to “make a success of Brexit” by delivering her a first victory? Thirdly, why should the 27 anticipate an Article 50 notification which is 8 months late, and thereby acknowledge the inevitability and facilitate (among other things by disarming the HOL, maybe the last rational player in the UK) the implementation of this horribly stupid act? Come on, get real!

  • Little Jackie Paper 16th Feb '17 - 8:50am

    Annabel – There is an interesting little aside on that. Other EU countries have registration schemes. A friend of mine is in Italy and I understand that their registration scheme for EU people is strongly enforced. In the UK the idea of registration schemes has tended not to go down too well with the right (on cost) and with liberals (who don’t like anything that looks like ID cards). What this has meant however is that for EU people eligible for permanent residency the process is much less straight forward than if a registration scheme had been in place. EU law, not, it should be noted UK law, does put the responsibility for demonstrating eligibility for EU rights on the individual. A registration scheme would have probably made it much easier for EU people to assert their rights.

    I have long-thought that we in the UK should re-evaluate our squeamishness about identity and registration schemes.

  • Little Jackie Paper 16th Feb '17 - 8:52am

    Arnold Kiel – Serious question, and to be clear I am not getting at you here.

    What do you think is the purpose of Article 50 being in the EU Treaty?

  • It’s truly frightening that none of the EU governments nor the EU institutions ever seem to have built in a contingency plan covering the eventuality of a country wanting to leave the EU. Should they not have discussed this? Carried out exercises or “wargames”? Commissioned reports on the subject? Maybe they did but I cannot see any sign of this preparation being put into place. The people in charge of us, both in the UK and the EU, have let the voters down badly by not considering “What if?”. Any company will now have emergency procedures, why cannot governments and institutions?

  • @Arnold Kiel
    ” why help May in her dishonest claim to “make a success of Brexit” by delivering her a first victory?”
    That sentence says it all really and Irk’s me.
    It shows that you want Brexit to be a complete disaster at all costs.

    The success of Brexit will not be the success of Theresa May, or Boris Johnson or David Davis, nor the Tory Government. It will be the success of the United Kingdom as a whole who by a democratic majority, voted to leave the European Union.

    This is why I am glad that European Citizens are not given a right to vote in this European referendum.

  • @Matt – If you voted ‘Leave’ in the referendum then May et al ARE by default your leaders. Remember the referendum was purely an opportunity to “have your say” whether to leave or remain, it did not not say anything about the exact form of Brexit nor how the result would be used or by whom it would be implemented – all of which were left for a subsequent government to determine. So if you disagree with what May et al are doing in your name…

  • Little Jackie Paper 16th Feb '17 - 11:25am

    Ed Shepherd – The ECB obviously has been thinking about it from a EZ perspective. See http://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/pdf/scplps/ecblwp10.pdf.

    But I agree that remarkably little stewarding seems to have been done about what is, ultimately, an explicit treaty right. Presumably every state who signed that treaty understood that there was an exit clause.

  • @ Little Jackie Pepper, Ed Shepherd

    Article 50 is for leaving, what else? It sensibly gives precedence to the interests of the remaining countries, which the UK subscribed to at the time. Expecting the authors of the Lisbon treaty to include a comprehensive smooth exit manual would have required these people to be highly schizophrenic. Does the UK Government have, e.g. a defense concept after the dissolution of NATO in the drawer? Funny thought. Our debate here is about deviating from the described procedure, something this Article logically is not for.

    @matt

    after our numerous exchanges, you will forgive me some robustness. The decision you cherish comes from a group of people who represent

    -52% of referendum participants at one point in time
    -20% of remaining years in productive employment
    -20% of higher education completed
    -10% of prospects of success in a competitive world
    -10% of entrepreneurial spirit
    – 0% of future economic contribution (their collective pension and health-care entitlements easily exceed their remaining life-time tax payments)
    – in sum, a lot less than half of the UKs collective brainpower, to put it politely

    I know of no successful country which lets its future determine by this group. Brexit will be a complete disaster, irrespective of what my wishes may be.

    By the way, if you call me elitist, you are right, and I will not get offended.

  • @Roland
    “So if you disagree with what May et al are doing in your name”
    Actually no I do not disagree with what May is doing, No i do not regret my vote, i wish people would stop insinuating that. I actually think May is doing an alright job at the moment.

    I couldn’t be happier that vote leave won and we are leaving the EU

    My response to frankie about Boris Johnson etc. being my leaders, I was pointing out that none of these were or are my leaders.
    I am a centre left voter who identifies most with Labour / Liberal Democrats.

    We know that leaving the EU meant leaving the single market, Everyone said that would happen from both sides of the arguments, especially remainers who insisted that leaving the EU meant leaving the single market.

  • Little Jackie Paper 16th Feb '17 - 11:53am

    Arnold Kiel –

    ‘Expecting the authors of the Lisbon treaty to include a comprehensive smooth exit manual would have required these people to be highly schizophrenic.’

    I don’t think that’s true at all. Once you accept that something can be withdrawn from then surely it follows that an orderly exit is in everyone’s interests. If you want to argue that the Lisbon Treaty was intended as permanent then fine. But I don’t think anyone said that at the time and it certainly isn’t what everyone signed up to.

    ‘Does the UK Government have, e.g. a defense concept after the dissolution of NATO in the drawer?

    I have been very critical of European leaders who seem to have assumed NATO is permanent and that there will always be a pro-NATO US President. There is zero basis for any such assumption and, frankly, there were eight years of alarm-bells under Bush. I would hope that the UK state has some idea of what would happen in the event that NATO breaks down.

  • Little Jackie Pepper,

    agreed, having such plans would be good; I am just against blaming anybody but UK Governments for your current mess. They approved the Lisbon treaty including all defects, decided on a referendum without addressing any of the procedural consequences, and are mindlessly acting on it.

    Concerning NATO, you surely know that parts of Trident are rented from the US, and that the irrelevance of the EU (because there is NATO) for defense purposes was a key leave-argument.

  • Peter Martin 16th Feb '17 - 1:26pm

    @ Simon Shaw,

    “having a referendum was an utterly stupid idea.” ??

    It might not have been so stupid to have had it 10 years ago. I’m sure remain would have won comfortably then. Referendums can be a good idea but you have to be almost 100% sure that the answer is what you want it to be!

    http://www.libdemvoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Clegg-referendum-leaflet-lisbon-2008.jpg

  • Ed Shepherd 16th Feb '17 - 1:41pm

    “Does the UK Government have, e.g. a defense concept after the dissolution of NATO in the drawer? Funny thought.” The UK Government should be expected to have a plan in place in case a key member of NATO decides to leave that organisation. This is not without precedent because France has had a detached relationship with NATO and the possibility of an isolationist US president is also precendented and I expect the NATO members to have plans in place for that eventuality. The EU is not being dissolved. An EU member might be leaving under Article 50. I think it is to be expected that the UK government and all other EU members would have had some discussions, options and plans in place ready for such an eventuality. But they do not seem to…

  • Ed Shepherd 16th Feb '17 - 1:43pm

    And what of the politicians of all parties who voted for a referendum on the EU? Did they not consider what should happen in the event of a vote to leave the EU? Why not?

  • @Simon Shaw

    “I don’t think they did, actually, but that may simply be that I wasn’t paying enough attention on the basis that I was strongly opposed to the referendum and didn’t vote Remain or Leave.”

    Well, I did follow the debates closely ALL of them, and the majority of the remainers were saying that leaving the EU would mean leaving the single market and that would be a disaster. It was one of the remain campaigns main lines of arguments.
    I recall Nick Clegg saying it as well, when I have time I will see if I can find the video online.
    How you can be so sure of something and accuse others of being wrong when you freely admit that you did not even follow the debates,interviews etc is beyond me, you must have one of these mystical crystal balls as well that seems to be floating around on here.

    @Arnold

    I am glad you don’t mind me thinking your an elitist.
    It is clear that everything you stand for and believe in, is the polar opposite to myself. We shall never agree or I suspect find common ground.

  • @matt – “We know that leaving the EU meant leaving the single market, Everyone said that would happen from both sides of the arguments”

    So the Emporer was wearing clothes then?

    The problem we have is that practically everyone involved in the referendum knew sweet FA and were talking out of their rear passage. Yes that includes DC, Nigel Farage, David Davis, Boris Johnson etc. etc., because as we now know none of them had actually done their homework…

    What is perhaps scary is that given how long we’ve been in the EU, is how little is actually taught in UK schools about the EU. So perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on people not understanding that the EU and the EEA/Single Market are two separate agreements, yes the EU builds upon the EEA foundations, but Article 50 is only about leaving the EU and not the EEA/Single Market.

    So as I’ve noted before, the government currently can only act on Article 50, it has no authority from Parliament or the people to leave the EEA. Yes, we can expect May and her Brexit monkeys to brazen it out and lie in their attempts to deceive, because as we saw with the Article 50 court case, what was fundamentally at stake was May et al having to admit they were blatantly wrong.

  • @ Martin

    It was portrayed by Johnson and other Brexiters as scare-mongering.

    It was my recollection that the leavers argued that we would be able to negotiate a deal that would allow us to have “access” to the so single market, which if course is entirely different to being a member of the single market. It is all about language.

    @Roland
    “The problem we have is that practically everyone involved in the referendum knew sweet FA and were talking out of their rear passage. Yes that includes DC, Nigel Farage, David Davis, Boris Johnson etc. etc., because as we now know none of them had actually done their homework…” I agree with you to a point, but it was the Government of the day’s duty and obligation to have a strategy to deal with any scenario from the vote but why did you not include Nick Clegg in that list of names? or are Liberal Democrat MP’s immune from this criticism?

  • Everyone seems to have strayed away from Robert’s original article. There is no point in re-fighting the referendum, whatever the arguments. In the meantime there are 5 million people on both sides of the Channel who need answers fast, on whether they are going to be allowed, post-Brexit, to stay living where they currently reside. No matter how angry you are about the nation’s decision to leave the EU, or about the government’s implementing it, don’t you think this issue needs resolving straightaway? I’m quite happy as a Leave voter to concede that no-one on either side thought about this issue beforehand, and that was wrong, but we are where are and we need to roll our sleeves up and get it resolved as best we can. And by “we”, I mean all the European countries including the UK. Don’t shout “there will no “we”..” – of course after Brexit we will continue to deal, trade, live, laugh together, just like we do with the Swiss, Canadians, Indians, Aussies…..just on a different footing from now.
    Roger Boaden – I’m not surprised you are not happy to be classified as “negotiated reciprocity”. Mrs May is not, however, being a playground bully on this issue. It is not you who is her bargaining chip – it is the European citizens currently living in the UK, and it is on your behalf that she wishes to deal. She and Davis have made it crystal clear that they are prepared to guarantee, tomorrow, that they can stay here if only the EU and/or European governments would say the same for you (please see my comment option (ii) above). What exactly would you have her do? Do you really want her to make a unilateral guarantee for the European citizens in the UK, only to watch her try and fail over the next n years to get some equivalent protection for you? She has no power over the European governments to make them let you stay (see option (i) above). It’s up to the French government.
    Arnold – Q:Why help May by delivering her first victory? A: Because it would help millions of anxious people on both sides of the Channel get on with their lives as much like before as possible? It wouldn’t be a “victory” anyway – just a practical and sensible arrangement.

  • @matt “but why did you not include Nick Clegg in that list of names?”

    Because I considered him to be a bit player in the Brexit misdirection.

    However, given the video evidence provided by Leave the EU references, it does raise questions about Nick Clegg, because of all of the ‘major’ Westminster names, he was the one who had actually spent time at the EU and so should have been more aware of the distinction between the EU and EEA. Perhaps he was merely following DC’s lead…

    Alternatively, even in the EU, given the major part ‘Brussels’ plays in both the EU and EEA, that people there forget. I’ve seen this in my local community where at one time the residents association Chair, Treasurer and another Trustee, were also on the Parish Council and Directors of the community centre. These three often forgot which organisation’s meeting they were attending, so often digressed into side conversations that were really the business of one of the other organisations. Interestingly, they couldn’t see the conflicts of interest occurring…

  • Rob Harrison 16th Feb '17 - 7:14pm

    So my little contribution on the view from continent provoked a number of discussions and I don’t intend to deal with every single point.

    From a legal point of view, it is true that the fate of UK nationals in the EU27 is a matter for the European Union and member states. The UK cannot – as such – legislate. However, the UK can legislate on matters such as payment of pensions and arranging for health insurance coverage.

    It is fully understandable that other EU member countries want to understand how their nationals will be treated. Reports such as Dutch citizens being told to prepare to leave, 30 year old Germans brought up in the UK being asked to demonstrate that their mother was legally in the UK at their birth, and various attacks on Poles do not help in encouraging other EU member countries to act favourably towards expats.

  • Little Jackie Paper 17th Feb '17 - 8:47am

    Roland – Not getting at you.

    Can you elaborate on your view about the EU and EEA membership? Your view is certainly not how I would read article 126 of the EEA agreement.

  • LJP – Article 126 doesn’t seem to contradict my viewpoint.

    http://www.efta.int/media/documents/legal-texts/eea/the-eea-agreement/Main%20Text%20of%20the%20Agreement/EEAagreement.pdf

    Remember the real question is whether the EEA Agreement explicitly prevents the UK from continuing it’s membership when it is no longer a member of the EU. From the various legal dissection’s I’ve read, it would seem not, particularly as those joining the EU are expected to also apply (in their own name) to the EEA and are not eligible for full membership (of the EU) until they have become full members of the EEA/Single Market.

    I suspect that the Brexit jihadists will want a hard Brexit ie. a complete clean break, because that way they don’t have to actually read very much and challenge themselves with trying to understand what they’ve read and thus can behave like bull’s in a china shop. I’m sure they will regard it as good fun, just like boy’s demolishing stuff; not realising that they will be the ones clearing up the mess…

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