Brexit secretary goes back to EU with request to ringfence citizens' rights

PUBLISHED: 12:28 18 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:28 18 June 2019

A letter has been sent to the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier asking him to reopen discussion on citizens' rights. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

A letter has been sent to the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier asking him to reopen discussion on citizens' rights. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay has written to Michel Barnier asking him to look again at proposals to ringfence citizens' rights regardless of how the UK leaves the EU.

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In his letter to the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Barclay asked to "continue to work on how we best protect citizens' rights in all scenarios", for both EU citizens in the UK and vice versa.

He wrote: "I note that there is gathering support from parliamentarians in the European parliament and other member states for so doing."

In March, an amendment to guarantee citizens' rights was tabled in the House of Commons by Tory backbencher Alberto Costa and passed without opposition, despite Theresa May warning the EU would not be able to strike a deal like this as it is separate to the Withdrawal Agreement.

Nonetheless, at this time Barclay also voiced concern to Barnier over possible restrictions on healthcare access for UK citizens living on the continent after a no-deal Brexit.

The Withdrawal Agreement, which has not passed a Commons vote, allows citizens to retain their residency and social security rights after Brexit, but does not cover issues like healthcare access, the right to work, and recognition of professional qualifications.

However, in his reply on March 25 Barnier said it was "far from straightforward" to identify which provisions would need to be "carved out" as part of the ringfencing exercise.

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