Tag Archives: british citizens

Brexit Impact for UK Citizens living in the EU outside the UK

“This is the fourth of a five-part series of pieces highlighting the issues of concern to Liberal Democrat members beyond our shores. For the first in the series, click here…”

The 2016 Referendum result has plunged the lives of the 1.2 million British citizens resident outside the UK in the EU into a maelstrom of loss and uncertainty. It is important to remember that about 600 000 of them are disenfranchised by the 15-year rule for overseas voting and thus many of the individuals most heavily and directly impacted by Brexit are those with no democratic voice in the process of the removal of their EU Citizen’s Rights.

As Prime Minister Johnson continues to wield the threat of a No-Deal Brexit to extract concessions from the EU and plays fast and loose with the rights of our EU citizen friends and relatives resident in the UK, he is entirely dependent on the goodwill of the other 27 EU Member States towards our Citizens, resident within their borders. For while it is in this British Government’s power to grant rights to EU citizens resident in the UK, British citizens must rely on the generosity of the EU Member States to maintain at least some of the rights that they depend on to conduct their lives.

There are a myriad of reasons why British citizens took the opportunities afforded to them by their EU Citizens rights and moved to live in other EU countries and the scenarios in which they now find themselves are no less diverse. There are those who depend on their Freedom of Movement in order to work across multiple countries, particularly those who are involved in the service sector, who will find themselves heavily impacted by the increased barriers to trade after Brexit.  Then, there are retirees, with pensions that have already seen their value fall by about 25% due to the Pound’s downward course since 2016 and now face the loss of their S1 reciprocal healthcare provision and the removal of pension uprating in 3 years time. So, while the British Embassy Outreach events seek to assure us that nothing much will change in our daily lives, it is actually hard to gloss over the fundamental erosion of rights and opportunities that is occurring.

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Brits living abroad – let’s hear their voice too!

Around five million British citizens live abroad. They come from all walks of life – working families with children, students, professionals, freelancers, and pensioners. Many continue to pay UK taxes, retaining close connections with the UK, regularly visiting relatives and friends living there. They have often built up business and cultural relationships between the UK and their adopted homeland.

However, our fellow citizens are now under pressure. A large number were disenfranchised in the 2016 EU referendum because of having lived for more than 15 years out of the country. Yet the 1-2 million Brits living in the rest of the EU have the most to lose, especially if there is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Freedom of movement and the right to live and work will be substantially restricted. Many EU countries have only provided short term solutions. Most are saying that their future rights will depend on how the UK treats its own citizens.

Outside the EU, Brits are facing other challenges. In Thailand for instance, tightening immigration restrictions in favour of big investors and high spending tourists are deliberately driving out ordinary Brits and other modest income foreigners. Young British citizens are discouraged from attending university in the UK as they are expected to pay fees at the overseas level.

That is why Lib Dems Overseas and Lib Dems in Europe will be launching their new policy proposals “Modernising the relationship between Britain and its citizens living abroad” at the Autumn Conference in Bournemouth. Look out for the fringe event Sunday lunchtime! These proposals will be the first presented by any political party specifically to help Brits living abroad.

We believe passionately that all British citizens, wherever they live, should be treated equally and fairly. The British diaspora’s importance to Britain’s soft power should be encouraged to full potential, especially if Brexit happens. What needs to be done then?

Posted in Op-eds | 33 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSteve Trevethan 16th Sep - 3:47pm
    Thank you for raising an important matter. Might it be the case that governments create money first and then tax some of it back? If...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 16th Sep - 3:23pm
    Yes, if they had a majority mandate from a General Election based on a manifesto saying that. But none did.
  • User AvatarSean Hyland 16th Sep - 3:19pm
    Would it be too hard if once in a while the party put up a general notice with some rough figures/percentages - a kind of...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 16th Sep - 2:27pm
    This coffee cup tax on Costa cups that the Tories stopped.That is one idea to re-introduce but at a cheaper rate. That is one idea...
  • User Avatartheakes 16th Sep - 2:27pm
    By the way, in the Gym yesterday and overhead conversation about Brexit. "Aye, it is getting like the 1640's, Johnson needs to be careful, I...
  • User AvatarTerry 16th Sep - 2:23pm
    Worth noting, Richard, that £100 in 1988 = nearly £300 in 2019. All in favour of more personal thanking, though.
Thu 10th Oct 2019