The coordinator of a campaign group for UK citizens in France has written to junioir Brexit Minister David Jones MP, flatly contradicting his claim that UK citizens want reciprocal agreements before the government guarantees the rights of EU citizens in the UK.
We reproduce the letter here in full:
Dear David Jones
I am moved to write to you this evening having just listened to your contribution to the House of Commons debate.
I am a UK citizen who lives in France; I am also co-ordinator of a group of over 5000 such citizens that has come together since the referendum to provide information, advice and support and to campaign for our rights post-Brexit. In addition, I am a member of the coalition of cross-EU groups that has presented evidence, both written and oral, to the Select Committee on Exiting the EU and has published the Alternative White Paper. This is the biggest group of British citizens' organisations in Europe working together for the first time to call for their serious concerns to be acted on before Article 50 is triggered, and represents thousands of British citizens living and working across the continent.
While I appreciate your concern for our welfare as UK citizens, I must make the point to you, very strongly, that we ourselves have argued that the rights of EU citizens living in the UK should be guaranteed immediately and unilaterally, before Article 50 is triggered. This point was made very clearly by our representatives in the oral evidence session of the Select Committee on 18 January and our position has not changed. We do not wish to hold the responsibility for your failure to guarantee EU citizens' continued rights before the triggering of Article 50. Such responsibility is not ours, but yours.
It is within your power to change this situation and make this guarantee now. It must be obvious that this would be the morally and ethically correct thing to do - not only to relieve the crippling uncertainty being experienced by EU citizens who have in good faith made their homes and their lives in the UK, but also to call a halt to the unpleasant notion of 'bargaining chips' or 'negotiating capital' that is so deeply distressing and dehumanising to over 4 million people.
I call upon you tonight either to support amendment NC27 of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 or to guarantee unilaterally in some other way that all rights currently enjoyed by EU citizens resident in the UK shall continue after the UK has left the EU. If you are left in any doubt as to why I am asking you to do this, I would ask you to spend just half an hour of your time reading the two documents I have attached: the Alternative White Paper produced by UK citizens living on the continent, and the equivalent document produced by 3 million EU citizens in the UK.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to hearing on, or preferably before, Wednesday evening that EU citizens rights have indeed been guaranteed.
Co-ordinator, RIFT - Remain in France Together