Brexit and Britons in Europe: Open Letter to Theresa May

This is an Open Letter to the UK Prime Minister Theresa May, representing the British citizens residing in European Union countries, numbering in round figures about one million people. The message is crystal clear: you do not have a mandate of any form, or any right whatsoever, to ruin our lives. If you do, you pay the consequences.

Dear Prime Minister Theresa May

I write this letter as a long-term British resident in a European Union country and claim to represent the interests of the one million, in round numbers, British citizens residing in the EU. Firstly I would like to point out two things: you do not have a mandate, much less a clear one, to negotiate away our existing rights and you do not have any right whatsoever to reach any deal which ruins our lives. The Brexit campaign in the UK was run on barefaced lies, duping the voters, making the entire exercise a falsity.

We have built bridges

We have spent, in some cases, decades, defending British interests abroad, we have spoken up for the United Kingdom abroad, we have defended her institutions, we have defended the monarchy, we have defended commercial interests. We have forged ties with British companies, we have built countless bridges to the UK and its economy, far more than any UK government official.

We have been excellent ambassadors of the United Kingdom in our lifestyles, our endeavour, our behaviour, we have worked tirelessly to promote British interests abroad. We have taught the English language, we have divulged British culture, we have sent students to British Universities, we have made partnerships between schools, between institutions, between Universities.

We have provided billions of pounds in income for Britain and we have provided a climate of goodwill for Britons coming abroad and for EU citizens going to earn an honest living, or to simply discover our culture, in the UK.

We have shown hundreds of millions of people that the British are not po-faced, obscenity-bawling, tattooed drunkards kicking in shop windows while draped in a Union flag with a pint of lager in one hand and a club in another. We have been civilised, and welcome, members of the communities in which we live. We hold concerts promoting British artists, we hold parties, wine and cheese dinners, afternoon teas, we read British poetry, we play British music, we play British games, we set up cricket clubs, we have English pubs and we organise special evenings in them in which all can participate equally. And have fun. Enjoying British culture.

In short, we have done more for Britain than many people living "at home" and we have done so in an unobtrusive way, not in a domineering, top-down approach but as respected members of our shared European space.

You have no right to destroy what we have done

What right, then, do you or your government to take all this away from us, making us second-class citizens in the homes we have built? We have interests, we have rights which we have earned. We have parents here, we have children here, they go to school, we have our livelihoods, we have our houses, we have our pets. We have our wives, we have our husbands, we have our partners not necessarily from EU countries, but they are our legal wives, husbands and partners. Under the existing law, not all of these would be granted entry into the UK.

We demand, we do not request, that you stand up for the interests of those Britons who have lived abroad as legal residents (for whatever period of time is open to negotiation) and also grant the same rights to all EU members residing in the UK, reciprocally.

We do not accept that our status should change in any way whatsoever, we do not accept that we should be forced to return to the UK - to do what? We do not accept that our partners and spouses are not granted residence in the UK.

Should the British government in any way, shape or form, negotiate an exit which affects our interests, then the UK will lose one million citizens, who shall apply for nationality status in their countries of residence, and if we are forced to return to the UK then you will not only have to accept our families, and extended families, as residents, you will have to house us and care for us and feed us and pay us a decent wage so that we can re-adapt.

Thank you for your attention to these matters. From our side, we have every right to hold you and your government to account.



John Whitehouse


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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey