Activists fear threat to British rights in France


The United Kingdom Financial Times says a home market bill, due to be presented to the UK parliament shortly, is expected to include sections watering down parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA) relating to Northern Ireland. It is not known which source the newspaper relied on, and other English-language media have cited the FT reports.The WA paved the way for Brexit, maintaining the key rights of existing expatriates (Brits in the EU and EU citizens in the UK), providing for a financial settlement covering UK debts to the ‘EU and making arrangements for the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. .

It is in certain aspects of the latter, relating to state aid and customs procedures, that the new bill would modify the commitments made by the United Kingdom in the WA.

The British government, however, reaffirmed this morning its commitment to WA. It comes as EU negotiator Michel Barnier also today gave assurances on the protections provided by the WA.

British Community Committee Vice-Chairman of France Christopher Chantrey said: “We will have to wait for the publication of the bill, but it is scandalous that the British government is seriously considering giving up some aspects of an international treaty and if if it does it would mean that we cannot be sure that our rights would be protected in the way we thought they were.

Alan Bretman, President of Learning Together, a Franco-British association in New Aquitaine, said Login he now asks what value can be placed on the “repeated assurances” from the British Embassy that the health care and pension rights of existing UK residents are guaranteed by the WA.

“Today’s news that the British Prime Minister is threatening to override WA will alarm many British nationals living in EU states,” he said. Many of their members are retirees, he said, so reliant on aspects of WA such as increased UK state pensions and S1 forms kept for their health care in France.

The founder of another group representing the British in the EU, Brexpats Hear Our Voice, Debbie Williams, said: “I have seen the reports, but at the moment there is no mention of the citizens’ rights.

“I am concerned about Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement, and the ripple effect of any changes there.

“Of course, it is deeply upsetting to see the way the debate is framed on this subject because it worries our members.”

British Minister George Eustice told the BBC Today program this morning: “We have a Withdrawal Agreement, which includes the Northern Ireland Protocol. And we are committed to implementing that. ”

He then said to BBC Breakfast News that if the UK and EU did not come to a trade deal, then “we would always leave on time and we would do so under the terms of the existing Withdrawal Agreement we have.”

“It’s not an attitude or a threat; that’s the reality of our position from the start.

On the elements mentioned by the Financial TimesMr Eustice said the UK government was looking to tie “one or two details where there is a requirement of legal certainty”.

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