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.

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How Brexit has changed life for Brits living in Denmark

Since Britain left the European Union, Brits living in Denmark have been deported, forced to change their jobs, and faced a long list of new bureaucratic hassles. Here are some of the problems our readers have highlighted.

How Brexit has changed life for Brits living in Denmark

EU figures out in January indicated that only about 40 Brits in Denmark had so far been ordered to leave the country as a result of Britain leaving the European Union, a fraction of the 1,050 ordered to leave Sweden. Some 350 Brits in Denmark missed the deadline for post-Brexit residency. 

But Brexit is still far from popular. A full 76 percent of the Britons in Denmark who responded to our survey said that Brexit had affected them either “quite” or “extremely” negatively (42.3 percent and 34.6 percent respectively).

Only one respondent said that their life had been very much improved. 

Here are some of the ways people said Brexit had made life less convenient and more expensive.  

Losing the right to stay in Denmark

William, an account manager based in Copenhagen, was deported from Denmark after failing to apply for post-Brexit residency in time and is even now trying to find out if the decision to deny him residency will be reversed and whether he might be entitled to compensation. 

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) failed to send letters to as many as 1,800 British people informing them of the deadline. 

“Siri failed to notify me of the requirement to update my status, I got deported and I experienced stress, anxiety and sickness due to the year-long application and appeals process,” he complained. 

Denmark’s immigration minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said last month that the roughly 350 British nationals who risk losing their right to live in Denmark after missing the deadline to apply for a post-Brexit residency permit would get a reprieve. Bek said on February 10th that his department would “present a solution soon”. 

READ ALSO: Britons told to leave Denmark over late residence applications could get reprieve

“Siri have not yet decided what they will do regarding making changes to finalised decisions that were affected by the rejection of appeal,” William said. 

For another British woman living in Copenhagen, Brexit means her UK-based husband can only visit her in Denmark for three months in every six month period, with his passport getting stamped every time. 

“It’s usually enough, but if we wanted to visit France for a month that would count too,” she said. 

Having to handle a work, residency, or study permit 

Brits not eligible for post-Brexit residency now need to apply for a work permit, family reunion, or study permit to get residency in Denmark, which several of those answering the survey complained was difficult, costly and involved long delays. 

“This is so annoying,” wrote one reader, who works in the pharmaceuticals industry. Registering for post-Brexit residency had been “a hassle”, agreed a music industry professional.

A 50-year-old woman from Scotland who married a Dane post-Brexit said her application for residency to come and live with him had been rejected on the first attempt, and that she had been so far unable to find a job. 

“For two years, I’ve been living an uncertain life worrying about the future,” she said. 

Susan, 41, said she found it frustrating not to be able to bring family members from the UK to live with her in Denmark. 

READ ALSO: How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?

Extra hassle getting personal number or bank account

Hannah said that it had taken significantly longer for her to get a Danish personal number (CPR) than it had for her Swedish husband and children. 

“Getting CPR, bank accounts etc took a lot longer than rest of family, who are Swedish,” she complained, adding that she was as a result applying for Swedish citizenship. 

Unable to get a long-term lease on a car or a monthly mobile phone contract 

The pharmaceuticals industry professional blamed Brexit for his inability to get a car through private leasing, although one major car manufacturer told The Local that all that was required was to have a registered address in Denmark, a Danish social security number, and a good enough credit rating.  

“I tried several private long-term leasing companies, but they simply told me that they couldn’t lease a car even though I work for a big pharmaceutical company with a permanent position,” he said. “The main problem is my work permit is of type J. If you leave the EU with the car, they wouldn’t know where to find you. Even if they knew when I was, the cost of prosecuting someone in a non-European country is too high.”

He also complained that he had been unable to get a monthly contract from his mobile phone provider meaning he could not upgrade to the new iPhone.

Problems keeping business going 

David Darlington, 58, closed down his import and distribution company Food From Home after more than 18 years after Brexit, as it became too difficult to import British goods to Scandinavia. 

“One of the reasons I lost my business was because of Brexshit,” he wrote in the survey. 

Problems with post and customs charges 

Almost everyone who answered the survey complained of the way Brexit had made sending and receiving post and parcels more difficult. 

“I had to produce receipts for Easter eggs which my dad had sent to my children. The supermarket receipt wasn’t good enough and in the end I told them to return the parcel,” complained Matt, 47, a Brit with Danish citizenship.

“I’ve stopped ordering books and other items from Amazon UK because of uncertainties with tax regulations,” he added.

“My sisters have to watch the value of presents they send to my grandchildren to avoid paying import taxes,” said a woman living in Copenhagen. 

Problems exchanging driving licence 

Susan complained about the “difficulty of exchanging driving licence”, even though most UK nationals do not need to take a driving test to exchange their driving licence to a Danish one, provided their licence was issued before the UK left the EU. 

Only people who got their licence after Brexit and who want to keep a higher category than a normal car license, entitling them to tow a heavy trailer, take more than eight passengers, or drive a truck or lorry, need to take a so-called “control test”. 

Harder to buy a house 

“Buying a house involved an extra approval from the ministry and adds additional restrictions,” complained AJ, pointing to the requirement that non-EU citizens apply to the Department of Civil Affairs for permission to buy property in Denmark. 

“You have to prove you have strong ties to Denmark,” she said of the process. “We were lucky. We had a great lawyer who got us through it all and we received our approval from the Ministry in two weeks but some people wait up to 12 weeks and then lose their house.” 

This does not apply, however, if you have already been resident in Denmark for more than five years

Difficult to work part-time in the UK 

“I will have to give up my online teaching for a college in London because I’m not allowed to teach more than six weeks in another country,” complained the woman living in Copenhagen. 

Queues at airport passport control

It can be maddening for Brits to be faced with a much shorter queue for EU citizens at airports in Denmark, while the queue for non-EU citizens edges forward painfully slowly. 

Unable to live and work in other EU countries 

“We only have the right to reside here. Much as we love Denmark, it’s a bit like being trapped,” complained AJ, one of many people who listed no longer being able to get a job in or move to another EU country as one of the major drawbacks.  

Michael, a project manager in the wind industry, said that he faced problems as a result of the limits on how long her can work in other EU countries, with the 90/180 rules only enabling him to work 90 out of any one 180 day period in another EU country. 

“Restrictions on travel throughout EU (90/180 rule. Border crossings and risk of stamps in passport that kick 90/180 rule in,” he said. 

“The only way to regain my European rights fully is by becoming Danish and the rules on this seem to change quite frequently, so as a result life seems more precarious and uncertain,” said Liz, who lives in Zealand. 

One recent retiree who had lived in Denmark for 25 years said she was annoyed that Brexit had lost her “my right to live, work, study, retire in the rest of the EU”, but that she had recently applied for and received Danish citizenship. 

Uncertainty about retiring 

“I am concerned about the future,” said Sandra. “When I retire will I still have the same rights or will I be told to leave?”. 

Uncertainty about extending post-Brexit residency card 

Under the EU withdrawal agreement, British citizens living in EU countries at the time Britain left the European Union were offered post-Brexit residency status indefinitely, but the certificates they were issued were only valid for five years, leaving many uncertain as to what happens when they try to renew. 

“I expect to find it more difficult to obtain permanent residency on completion of the Article 51 Temp Residency I got in 2021,” wrote Ian. 

Feels different 

For many respondents, the biggest change was emotional. Brexit has changed how comfortable and secure they feel living in Denmark. 

“It feels different to be needing a resident’s card, rather than being more a ‘part of the European family’, with the feeling of being ‘on probation’ for remaining,” said Stephen. 

“It makes me feel far away from daughter and friends,” said Caroline, a retiree.