SHARE
COPY LINK
THERESA MAY SHELTERS FROM THE RAIN IN MAIDENHEAD O

BREXIT

RECAP: Brits in Europe vent anger after May postpones Brexit vote

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has formally told the UK Parliament that the vote has been postponed because there is not enough support for the current backstop solution to avoid a hard border in Ireland. She has said she will go back to the EU to improve on the deal, especially with regards to the backstop. Rights groups in Europe have expressed anger that the vote was postponed.

RECAP: Brits in Europe vent anger after May postpones Brexit vote
British PM Theresa May has postponed the UK Parliament's vote on the draft Brexit deal because of MPs' “concerns” about the backstop, which could threaten “a hard border” between Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

“The deal would be rejected by a significant margin,” said May, justifying why the vote will be delayed. “We will not seek to divide the house at this time.” The issue of the backstop is the one that has caused the largest division, says May, and prompted the decision to postpone the vote. 

  • May says she will consult again with EU leaders on the backstop
  • PM says a second referendum risks “dividing the country again”
  • Leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn calls for the PM to “make way” if she cannot get a new consensus out of Brussels and the EU27
  • PM Theresa May refuses to commit to a new date for the vote, although it will have to be in the next 42 days – before January 21st, 2019. 
  • May says discussions with EU leaders reassured her that they are open to some renegotiations. The EU Commission has said that the current deal is final and non-negotiable. 
  • British in Europe lament being left “in limbo” for even longer about the future status of British citizens in Europe
  • EU Council President Donald Tusk says the deal, including the backstop, will not be renegotiated. 

19:11 EU Council says it will not renegotiate backstop

EU Council President Donald Tusk says the EU27 is “not willing to renegotiate, including on the backstop” but “but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification. As time is running out, we will also discuss our preparedness for a no-deal scenario.

18:57 First media reactions from the EU to May's vote postponement

“May pulls the emergency brakes” – headline in Munich's Süddeutsche Zeitung

“Brexit, May's government in chaos” –  Italian daily Repubblica leads with that headline in its coverage

“May confirms her intention to renegotiate the deal with the EU” – Spain's El Mundo

18:50 Mayor of London Sadiq Khan reiterates support for People's Vote or revocation of Article 50

18:46 More from British in Europe

“Parliament also needs to make its mind up and decide quickly if it's going to go for a People's Vote or revoke Article 50 unilaterally. It's not just EU negotiators whose patience is wearing thing. EU 27 governments are already looking at their no deal contingency plans and the window to make any of these things happen is closing rapidly,” British in Europe told The Local. 

18:41 Opposition minor parties want May out

Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Nicola Sturgeon, head of the Scottish National Party, have said they would support Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn if he calls for a vote of no-confidence.

18:40 “If the PM can change her mind, so can the public” – MP Caroline Lucas

18:35 Postponement is equivalent to deal rejection, says Dutch analyst

A key Brexit analyst with Dutch think tank Clingendael, Rem Korteweg, says the vote postponement is equivalent to the deal being voted down.

18:30 Vote postponement hits EU markets

Markets in Europe are reacting badly to May's announcement of the vote being postponed. The Borsa in Milan, owned by the London Stock Exchange, is down 1.77%, according to Italian daily Repubblica.  Stock markets in Paris and Frankfurt have also taken a hit today. 

18:26 May in confident mood, despite postponing the vote

“I believe from discussions with my EU colleagues that they do want a deal,” says PM. The former EU Commissioner Romano Prodi made the same point in an interview with the Guardian recently in which he expressed the view that the EU Commission would be willing to renegotiate to get a deal. 

18:23 A vote before Christmas? 

Most interventions from MPs are now pushing for a new date before Christmas, but PM May is not giving in to specifying a new date for an MPs vote on Brexit. Reactions to May's announcement to the UK Parliament that the vote will be postponed are ongoing. 

18:21 Further reassurances from France for Brits 

“Just before Theresa May spoke in the Commons, Nathalie Loiseau (ED: France's Europe minister) was speaking in the Assemblée nationale plenary debate on the projet de loi. She stated very strongly that British residents in France would be 'as welcome tomorrow as they are today' and that we shouldn't be the 'hostages of Brexit'. So some reassurance for Brits in France on a difficult afternoon,” RIFT'S Kalba Meadows told The Local in a written comment. 

READ ALSO: 'Brits in France are victims of Brexit' – French senator vows to fight for UK citizens 

18:18 Will a new declaration from the EU/UK be ready in time for Thursday's EU Council meeting?´

18:14 Representative of Brits in France calls postponement “dangerous” 

“900 days in limbo and here we are watching the can being kicked down the road … Unbelievable, dangerous, and to what end? At worst there should be, as the speaker has strongly suggested, a motion to debate whether the vote should be delayed or not, instead of this unilateral declaration that doesn't serve anything or anyone. But it's obvious that the House isn't going to resolve this message and the time must now have come to put the question back to the people in a further vote – including of course a vote for the 5 million British in Europe and EU citizens in the UK!” Kalba Meadows, chair of Remain in France Together (RIFT), a group representing Brits in France, told The Local. 

18:11 No new date until May talks to EU leaders again

“We need to enter into discussions with the European Union. Until we have done that, it is not possible to give a date,” PM May says in response to a question requesting when the new date will be. 

18:09 Frankfurt wants the WA, not a “disorderly Brexit” 

Before today's vote, voices in Frankfurt expressed the hope that Parliament would accept the Withdrawal Agreement. 

“Frankfurt Main Finance would welcome the adoption of the agreement by the British Parliament. For above all, a “yes” would be a definite “no” to an unregulated Brexit.  Approval of the agreement and a regulated withdrawal would mean more certainty for markets and for the banks, which could now finally make reliable plans. We have waited a long time for this. Even if still hold the opinion that the withdrawal from the EU is neither good for Europe nor for Germany nor the UK,” Hubertus Väth, managing director of the financial centre initiative Frankfurt Main Finance, said in a statement on December 10th. 

18:06 The big question is: when will the vote in the UK Parliament now be held?

18:04 House of Cards Commons language

There has been some very angry comments directed towards the PM in Parliament – she has been called a “coward,” among other things, for postponing the vote.

18:00 “EU leaders will not give TM more than very minor changes to her deal” – head of Brussels think tank

May says she can get concessions out of the EU, but key observers in Brussels aren't convinced. This from Charles Grant, director of think tank The Centre for European Reform. 

17:55 Boris Johnson needs a rest from Brexit?

Everybody is fully engaged in the debate in the UK Parliament. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson – one of the key politicians who started this whole quagmire – is yawning his way through it. 

17:52 Do you think Brits in Europe should be allowed to vote in any second referendum? If so, Best for Britain has started a petition to that end. 

A lot of people are calling for what is being labelled a People's Vote, a second referendum on Brexit now the terms of the future relationship with the EU are clear(er). British in Europe spokeswoman Laura Shields say Brits in the EU should be given the chance to vote in any such plebiscite. 

17:48 Notes on voting

Should the first referendum result be sacrosanct or is there space for a second vote? The debate ensues.

17:42 British in Europe reiterates need for ring-fencing of rights

“The PM needs to get on with it and allow the vote to happen.  Britons living in Europe need certainty and we've now been in limbo for 900 days.  But, if, as expected, she loses, we need her and the EU 27 to move to ring-fence the existing – if imperfect – withdrawal agreement straight away, so that real people's lives don't get forgotten in the chaos that will inevitably ensue,” Laura Shields, spokeswoman for British in Europe, told The Local. 

17:38 PM believes the EU is willing to renegotiate

“Nothing is off the table,” says PM May. The main thing is to seek reassurances from EU leaders that “the backstop will not be indefinite.” She says her discussions with EU leaders reassured her that she will still be able to have discussions about the deal and make changes. This is contrary to what the EU Commission has been repeating in recent days – that the deal on the table is final and non-negotiable. 

17:34 EU Council schedule makes no mention of Brexit talks

 The EU Council summit schedule, according to Austria's current presidency of the Council, for the end of this week makes no mention of renegotiating anything in the Brexit deal. Are they also surprised? 

17:31 “We entered as one United Kingdom and will be leaving as one United Kingdom,” says May in response to a question in a raucous House of Commons. The Speaker has made several interventions calling for calm. 

17:26 The European Council is scheduled to meet on December 13th and 14th – Thursday and Friday this week, providing an opportunity for the PM to meet her EU counterparts directly. Meanwhile, May has been talking to EU leaders on the phone. 

17:23 Nicola Sturgeon presses for new date

The First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has noted that the content of the PM's speech conspicuous for its absence of a new date for the vote. Theresa May has postponed the vote but has refused to commit to a new date. Parliament will have to be given a vote in the next 42 days – before January 21st. 

17:21 Concern from EU citizens

EU citizens in the EU are expressing concerns about the devaluation of the pound, the lowest the pound has sunk in 18 months. 

In other news today, the ECJ has ruled that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 and remain a member of the EU, should it choose to. 

READ ALSO: UK can cancel Brexit before March 29th without EU's consent, ECJ rules

17:20 Theresa May says a second referendum would lead to a third referendum to decide the result. “The people voted, we should deliver on it,” says May. 

17:13 British in Europe, the grassroots campaign for the rights of British citizens in Europe, says the “delay is adding to the stress that we are feeling” – the 1.2 million to 3.6 million British citizens in Europe. 

“The elements do not offer sufficient number of colleagues the reassurances they need,” May said.

17:10 Guy Verhofstadt, of the EU Parliament (and the former Belgian  PM), is not impressed with the delay.

17:04 This has turned into a robust debate. Kenneth Clarke and Ian Duncan Smith, both Conservatives in May's party, are grilling her on whether she thinks she can get the EU to “reopen the Withdrawal Agreement.”  

17:02 The PM says the latest a vote could be held will be January 21st next year, which we already knew. But she refuses to commit to a new date for a vote. 

17:00 MPs need to know when the vote will be, says one MP, calling the PM a coward for cancelling. 
 
16:58 A deal similar to the “Norway and Canada” deal would risk “a period with a backstop” says May. 
 
16:56 The Speaker has called for MPs to have a say on when the vote should take place. 

16:49 Corbyn says PM “must make way” if “she cannot renegotiate a deal.” 

16:48 Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition, reacts to May's speech. 

He asks if the PM is seeking merely “reassurances” or “changes” to the deal? Is she willing to drop “further red lines to make progress,” Corbyn asks. 

16:44 PM'S SPEECH ON POSTPONEMENT OF VOTE: the main quotes

The PM says she “has listened and heard concerns about the backstop” and will “do her best” to seek further reassurances. The Speaker has had to tell raucous MPs not to drown out the PM's speech. The House of Commons resembles a pub full of angry crowds more than a political debating forum today. 

16:43 Remaining part of the Single Market and customs Union would require free movement and substantial financial contribution to the EU budget, adds May, saying such measures would not respect the “outcome of the referendum.” 

16:42 A second referendum risks “dividing the country again,” says May. 

16:41 “Does this house want to deliver Brexit?” May asks, to widespread laughter. “If the answer is yes,” adds May, “We have to ask if we are willing to make a compromise.” Some of the toughest aspects, such as the backstop, are “inescapable facts” of the negotiations, says May. 

16:40 The Speaker has had to interrupt heckling during the PM's speech. 

16:39 “These elements do not offer sufficient number of colleagues the reassurances they need,” on how to avoid the backstop, says May. She adds that she will travel to meet her counterparts across the EU to discuss how to avoid the backstop. 

16:38 May is talking about the people who live on the Northern Irish/Ireland border. “They do not want a return to the hard border. If this house cares about preserving this union, we must” listen to those who live along the border, says May. 

16:36 “The deal would be rejected by a significant margin,” says May, justifying why the vote will be delayed. “We will not seek to divide the house at this time.” The issue of the backstop is the issue that has caused the largest division, says May. 

16:33 “We've now had three days of debate on the withdrawal agreement,” begin PM May. 

16:30 Theresa May is scheduled to make a statement to the UK Parliament at 3.30pm UK time in which she is expected to formally announce the postponement of tomorrow's vote on the draft Brexit deal. 

15:00 The UK parliament was due to vote on May's deal on Tuesday but May has decided to put the decision on hold, according to British media reports.

The move is being viewed as an admission that parliament was likely to reject the deal.

The British PM is set to give a statement to the House of Commons at 3.30pm local time. 

Downing Street has not yet confirmed the delay but the BBC and other media said they had multiple sources saying the vote would not go ahead on Tuesday as planned. 

The pound tumbled to its lowest level since June 2017 amid market fears of the UK tumbling out of the EU without a deal. 

In a separate development on Monday, a European Court of Justice ruling said the UK did not need the EU's permission if it wanted to unilaterally cancel its Brexit plans before March 29th. 

There is speculation that the British Prime Minister will return to Brussels in the hope of getting a better deal, particularly around the Northern Ireland backstop. However Brussels and EU leaders have repeatedly insisted that the deal is not up for re-negotiation.

Member comments

  1. May, a rremainer by instinct, clearly works for Brussels. She needs a break from UK office work. Perhaps she should take this opportunity to go on one of her famous long walks somewhere exotic, and remain there.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

BREXIT

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Brexit really does mean that Britons are no longer EU citizens. Claudia Delpero looks at whether there's any other way they can keep their rights.

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Britons lost EU citizenship when the UK left the EU, on 1st February 2020. 

It is the first time the EU’s top court has rules on the matter, after a number of legal cases challenged this specific Brexit outcome. The decision also sets a precedent should other countries decide to leave the bloc in the future. 

What has the EU Court decided?

The Court of Justice decided on a case brought by a British woman living in France.

Before Brexit, she could vote and stand as a candidate in her town of residence, Thoux. But after the UK withdrawal from the EU, she was removed from the electoral roll and excluded from the municipal elections that took place in March 2020, during the transition period.  

As the mayor refused her appeal to restore the registration, she took the case to the regional court in Auch, which agreed to request an interpretation of the rules to the EU top court. 

Julien Fouchet, the barrister supporting her and several other cases on the EU citizenship of British nationals, argued that the loss of EU citizenship and voting rights was disproportionate. It would also be contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, given that the woman also lost her voting rights in the UK, having lived abroad for more than 15 years.

Alice Bouillez, who has lived in France since 1984 and is married to a French national, could have applied for French citizenship, but did not do so because she said “this was not necessary” before Brexit and, as a former UK official, she had taken an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

On Thursday the Court of Justice announced the decision about her case. The court ruled that the “possession of the nationality of a member state is an essential condition for a person to be able to acquire and retain the status of citizen of the Union and to benefit fully from the rights attaching to that status.”

The court therefore confirmed that British nationals automatically lost their EU citizenship as a result of Brexit and, as a consequence, Britons also lost their voting and electoral rights in municipal elections in the EU (unless the country where they live set different rules). 

What is EU citizenship?

EU citizenship was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht of 1992, when borders were opening and the bloc was integrating economically after the end of the Cold War. 

Under the treaty, every person holding the nationality of an EU member state is a citizen of the Union. EU citizenship is additional and does not replace nationality, the treaty specifies. But this creates the first form of a transnational citizenship that grants rights across borders.

EU citizens have the right to access each other’s territory, job market and services under the principle of non-discrimination. If they are economically active, they have the right to reside in other EU states and be joined by family members, access healthcare at the same conditions of nationals (for emergency treatment also when travelling temporarily), obtain social security benefits and see their professional qualifications recognised.

Beyond free movement, at the core of EU citizenship there are also political rights, such as participating in the European Parliament election, voting and standing as candidates in municipal elections when living in other EU countries, receiving consular protection from other EU states outside the EU, and taking part in European Citizens’ Initiatives asking to the EU to legislate on certain matters. 

Which EU citizenship rights have Britons lost with Brexit? 

For British citizens who were living in the EU before Brexit, the Withdrawal Agreement protects some of these rights. Britons covered by deal have their residence, access to work and education, healthcare, social security and qualifications secured, but only in the country where they were living before Brexit.

But the right to free movement in other EU states, consular protection in third countries, and the political rights attached to EU citizenship were lost, the Court confirmed. 

For British citizens in the UK, the trade and cooperation agreement has preserved some social security rights and, in theory, the possibility to have professional qualifications recognized when moving to an EU country. These provisions however lack details and may take a long time before they work in practice. 

As the “European Union” no longer features on British passports, the possibility to access EU lanes at airports to skip passport control queues has also vanished. 

“The loss of those treasured rights has been clear to those of us living in the EU from the early days of Brexit. But for Brits in the UK, the realities of life outside the EU, and the consequences of Brexit, are only just dawning. Long queues at the borders, roaming charges, obstacles to working abroad, etc. are the new reality,” said Sue Wilson, Chair of the group Remain in Spain. 

While she said the court’s decision was “no real surprise,” she argued that “this is not the Brexit the public were promised, or that the majority voted for.”

Can British citizens get some of these rights back?

Julien Fouchet was disappointed at the Court decision and promised to continue the legal fight, bringing the case at the European Court of Human Rights (which is not an EU institution). 

Other two cases on the matter of EU citizenship for British nationals are still pending at the Court of Justice of the EU. One of them aims to determine whether EU citizenship is a “fundamental status” that cannot be removed but Thursday’s decision could have already provided the answer.

Another option to reconsider some of the rights is the renegotiation of EU-UK trade agreement, when it will be reviewed in 2025. 

Meanwhile, the EU is revising the rules for non-EU citizens living in EU countries on a long-term basis, making it easier to move across borders. 

Applying for citizenship is so far the only option to regain voting rights, although not all EU countries allow dual nationality. 

Sue Wilson, who has long campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, said: “There is only one way to restore the loss of our rights, and that’s to rejoin the single market, rejoin the customs union, and eventually, rejoin the European Union… Until that day, we will continue to be second class citizens whose rights have been diminished for the sake of an ideology.”

SHOW COMMENTS