British expats have published an alternative Brexit White Paper to challenge Prime Minister Theresa may’s blueprint for leaving the European Union.
Ten expat groups across Europe have joined forces to publish the paper.
They are calling for expat rights to be guaranteed and enshrined in international law to stop any backtracking on the agreement post-Brexit.
The government estimates more than 2 million British expats live in the EU – with populations of just 200 or so in places such as Latvia, rising to almost 350,000 in Spain.
The main concerns for expats are healthcare, if state pensions will stay inflation proof, their right to live and work in the EU and special provisions for students.
One major worry is paying for healthcare in Spain, where around a third of British expats live.
Many are aged in their 60s and over.
EU rules allow them to claim free healthcare, but if Brexit means they lose the cover, many may have to return home if they cannot afford private medical insurance.
Spain has the reverse problem, with around 200,000 expats living in Britain.
“The referendum gave no mandate to alter the rights of these people,” says the paper authored by Jane Golding and Jeremy Morgan, who are British lawyers living in the EU.
“It was no part of the Leave campaign that their rights should be torn up, quite the contrary.
Expat deal in the balance
“It is therefore essential that whatever steps are necessary to protect these rights are taken, and taken as a matter of urgency to bring an end to the anxiety that they are feeling about their personal futures and those of their families.”
The alternative white paper is just one of several efforts by British expats to influence the Brexit talks due to be triggered by March 31 by May.
She has indicated that Britain is ready to do a deal with the EU over expat rights – and has had private talks with leaders in Ireland and Spain over the matter.
But she claims some EU leaders are blocking the move.
Securing the rights of British expats in Europe was one of the key Brexit goals listed in the government White Paper published last week.