Britons living in the EU face Brexit backlash, leaked paper warns

Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure to offer a secure future for EU nationals in the UK 'may colour member states’ approach', a leaked European parliament document has warned

14 February 2017, 8:25am
Britons living in Germany hold up signs in protest against Brexit in Berlin last July
Britons living in Germany hold up signs in protest against Brexit in Berlin last July
A document obtained by British newspaper the Guardian warned that British nationals living in the EU could expect a backlash as a consequence of the government’s treatment of foreigners since the UK’s referendum to leave the block.

According to the Guardian, the leaked EU assessment of the legal impact of Britain’s withdrawal says the 1.2 million Britons living in the EU could pay a penalty for the Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure to offer a secure future for EU nationals in the UK.

The internal document drawn up by the European parliament’s legal affairs committee says it will be down to each member state to decide whether British citizens are allowed to carry on living within their respective borders after 2019, the Guardian reported. “The fact that it appears to be particularly difficult for foreign nationals, even if married to UK nationals or born in the UK, to acquire permanent residence status or British nationality may colour member states’ approach to this matter,” the document is reported to say.

UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has condemned May’s “Hunger Games approach to Brexit,” saying the document pointed to “the human cost of a Tory-style Brexit. Families, jobs and homes are all in the balance.”

“There must be an end to this Hunger Games approach to Brexit negotiations, which gives no consideration to EU nationals in our country or British nationals living abroad,” he added.

The Labour leader called on the government to make a commitment that EU nationals currently living in the UK would be free to continue to do so, saying the failure to do so amounted to “playing political games with people’s lives.”

As yet the British government has refused to make such a commitment. As a result there has been almost a 50% increase in the number of EU citizens applying for permanent residency documentation since the vote on 23 June. The number of applications rose from 36,555 in the three months to June 2016 to 56,024 in the three months to September, according to the latest figures.