One of the burning issues during the Brexit negotiations is the reciprocal rights of UK citizens living in the EU, and EU citizens living in the UK. Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, has been extremely active on this important matter. By establishing an All Party Parliamentary Group called ‘Brexpats’, Mr Evans and his cross-party colleagues aim to issue guidance on ensuring the reciprocal rights of EU nationals and UK nationals are upheld.
Speaking about the Brexpats APPG, Mr Evans said: “There are approximately 1.2 million British residents in the EU, and over 3 million EU citizens in the UK. It is imperative that a deal is swiftly reached on this crucial matter, allowing those who are affected to have peace of mind.”
Continuing, Mr Evans explained how important this concern is for the people of the Ribble Valley: “people who have lived and worked in the Ribble Valley, but just so happen to have been born within one of the 27 other European countries deserve the right to remain in the UK. We should not turn our backs on those who have contributed so greatly to Britain, and allow each of these people to continue to live freely in such a diverse and magnificent country. They should not be used as pawns and an agreement needs to be reached as a matter of urgency – these people must be going through significant stress.”
Such is Mr Evans’ concern on the issue, he opted to question the Prime Minister about reciprocal rights at the Parliamentary debate of the Queen’s Speech. Mr Evans asked the Prime Minister if she would be prepared to give a guarantee to EU and UK nationals as quickly as possible, and not wait until Brexit negotiations have finished to give assurances. The Prime Minister replied: “we have always said from the beginning of this that we want to address this issue at an early stage in the negotiations…we of course want to see UK citizens in the European Union being treated fairly as well.”
Last Thursday, Theresa May flew to Brussels to discuss this prioritized issue with EU commissioners. In a statement in Brussels on Friday, the Prime Minister reassured her stance: “No one will have to leave, we won’t be seeing families split apart, we want people to carry on with their lives as they did before, this is a fair and serious offer.”
Brexit negotiations will continue until March 2019.