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As it happened: Anger as freedom of movement excluded from draft Brexit text

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As it happened: Anger as freedom of movement excluded from draft Brexit text
Under-fire Theresa May sips from a glass of water during a press conference on Thursday night. Photo: AFP
16:39 CET+01:00
Britons throughout Europe have been left angry after the Theresa May's withdrawal agreement confirms there will be no onward freedom of movement for Brits already living in Europe after the transition period.
  • Theresa May put the deal before her cabinet at 2pm on Wednesday November 14th (15:00 CET)
  • EU27 ambassadors discussed the text on November 14th too
  • The president of the EU Council Donald Tusk has announced there will be an extraordinary summit of the Council in November
  • Three UK cabinet ministers resigned on November 15th, including the Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab.

  • Mixed reactions from across the EU, although mainly ones of relief. Some countries, like France, are still not discounting a no-deal outcome 

  • European Commission spokesman told The Local on November 14th there are no new developments on citizens' rights. This was confirmed by the draft text published later that evening. 

  • British in Europe expresses "anger" at the loss of free movement for Brits in Europe after 2020

November 15th

17:05 - A summary of key events today

- Three cabinet ministers resigned, including Dominic Raab, the man who had been given the mandate to negotiate on behalf of the UK.

- Freedom of movement for Brits in Europe is not in the deal. 

- Reactions from across Europe have been mixed. Politicians and business leaders have welcomed news of a deal, but citizenship rights group British in Europe expressed "anger and disappointment" that "freedom of movement has been excluded". 

- The mammoth 585-page draft agreement has been published.

- Donald Tusk announced the EU Council will hold a formerly-unscheduled extraordinary summit on November 25th. 

Thanks for following our blog. You can catch up on all the updates tomorrow, as you can every Friday, in The Local's Europe & You newsletter. If you haven't yet signed up for that newsletter, here is the place to do so. 

16:52 - British in Europe statement on loss of free movement

For those of you who missed it, here is grassroots citizenship rights group British in Europe's statement from today in full.

16:48 - While citizens on the front lines of Brexit are upset about the loss of rights, business leaders are expressing satisfaction with the draft agreed text. Has Brexit protected trade at the expense of citizenship rights? 

16:45 - Rumours of more imminent ministerial resignations are keeping the Westminster press pack guessing

16:43 – Are you applying for a Swedish passport? If so, we have details on how to do so.

My colleague Catherine Edwards has details on how Brits in Sweden can obtain citizenship in that country. 

How to escape Brexit and get citizenship in Sweden

Around 20,000 British citizens currently live in Sweden but do not hold Swedish citizenship. If you're one of them, here's a guide on how to apply for Swedish citizenship before Britain leaves the EU.

Sweden has very different rules on residency and citizenship depending on whether you're from an EU or non-EU country. 

This means that for Brits in Sweden who want to retain their status as an EU citizen after Brexit, or who simply want to guarantee their right to continue living in the country in the event of a no-deal Brexit, applying for permanent residency or citizenship beforehand could be a wise idea.

Read the full story on The Local Sweden.

16:39 - There is more apparent discontent in the British cabinet

Could there still be more resignations following yesterday's marathon session? Three ministers including Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary, have already resigned today. This from the BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg:

16:32 - The narrative around Brexit often focuses on the consequences of Brexit for the EU. We like to try and break down each country's relationship with the UK and understand some of the minutiae at stake for trade and business in each member state. This week, we focus our attention again on Denmark and what is at stake in terms of trade for the Scandinavian nation. 

Danish industry looks on nervously as UK Brexit drama unfolds

Fishing, dairy and meat production, manufacturing and pharma. A Brexit deal could yet safeguard key Danish exports to the UK.

The news that an agreement between the EU and the UK on the latter’s departure from the bloc has reassured markets, business leaders and politicians across Europe. 

Danish Prime Minister Løkke Rasmussen said a deal was a “positive signal” but was cautious in his assessment. “What we, as Liberals, are concerned with is that there is balance and we don’t enter into a system in which the British are given unintended competitive advantages,” PM Rasmussen said in comments to national broadcaster DR on November 14th. 

Read the full story on The Local Denmark. 

16:16 - More reaction from Brits in France: "Brexit is a bloody disaster at every level."

"My wife and I have been 'Europeans' all our adult lives. We have planned, for the last thirteen years, to permanently retire to 'our' French village in post code 66490.Throughout our thirteen year French property ownership; we have not been resident due to working in the UK. Consequently, we do not have carte de séjour status.I have retired early and will be moving to France, within the next three weeks, in an attempt to qualify for residency and to secure our card. My wife will continue to work in the UK for two more years.

Brexit is causing us such enormous stress; we are seriously struggling to navigate the ways and means to fulfil our retirement plan. What restrictions might we face? What happens if we are unable to obtain residency? Medical treatment, monetary exchange rates, taxation, etc., must all be resolved. The loss of 'free movement' could prevent or, at best, severely restrict our travel options throughout Europe (we live on the French/Spanish border and currently enjoy the entire region of north and south Catalonia: but we, also, have many friends across the rest of Europe who we can, currently, visit without issue). At worst - it could totally scupper a lifetime's ambition, planning, and work. Brexit is a bloody disaster at every level," writes Paul Roberts from France. 

16:14 - Michael Gove to be the next Brexit secretary?

Possibly, but he is reportedly demanding that his own terms and conditions be guaranteed, according to The Telegraph.

16:10 - Theresa May justifies her Brexit deal to parliament

16:08 - British in Europe and citizenship rights 

Laura Shields, the spokeswoman for British in Europe, is about to appear on LBC (TV) to discuss citizenship rights. 

15:58 - Anger at Brexit process

Michael Eye, a British resident in Sweden for more than 50 years, is upset about how Brexit has been handled. 

"Though I really believe that the UK should remain in the EU, I think Brexit has been dealt with in a somewhat inappropriate way," Michael tells The Local. 

"In response to "We want to leave" the best response would have been. "Ok. Thank you for your input as a member state. You're free to leave, or remain. Please let us know no later than February 2019. This would have avoided the chaos that Brexit has caused and is still causing," he adds.
 
15:53 - More reactions to loss of freedom of movement

"How ‘ very dare they’ not think about us expats that have paid into the system for years and years. It will be harder and harder to go back to the UK to visit love ones. Also I am sure like us, some expats nip back for food treats that cannot be brought here. For goodness sake England, get a grip and stay with the EU. People never voted for all that is going on now, they just wanted a limit on immigrants which I might add has been swept under the carpet," Andrea Everette, a Brit in Wamin in France, tells The Local. 

"Now my future as an artist is even more precarious. Will I have to get visas for every exhibition that is not in Germany or the UK?" writes Maeshelle West-Davies from Germany. 

15:48 - Reactions to the loss of freedom of movement from Brits in Europe

"What is so shameful about denying freedom of movement is that it will most affect those of us who couldn't vote in the referendum .... And they talk about 'democracy and the will of the people': laughable.

The deal won't get through the House of Commons and if (when) that happens we should have another vote and EVERY UK national who lives outside of the UK must be allowed to vote," says Paul Giblin, a British resident of the Spanish capital Madrid since 1991. 
 
15:34 - Draft Brexit text

For those of you who haven't seen it, here is the 585-page text. Still trying to work out what it all means, but freedom of onward movement for Brits resident in an EU state has been excluded. 

14:50 - More reactions from Germany

'I'm still holding out for a people's vote': The Brexit reaction from Germany

German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass welcomed the Brexit deal on Thursday. He tweeted: I'm very happy about the preliminary deal, even if I regret Brexit as such. We and the other member states will have to take a careful look at the wording and then decide on it in the European Council." Others called for a people's vote. 

Read the full story on The Local Germany.

14:45 - Brits in Europe react

We are grateful for your comments, reactions and insights from across Europe. Please keep them coming. Carole Knight in France says:

"With the resignations and now a possible vote of no confidence- what next? We had planned to spend our retirement in France, but after two years, the insecurity of Brexit and the constant change of documents for the Carte de Sejour, we are probably going to be returning to Exeter. With no parliamentary majority in the house, a vote of no confidence, what sort of agreement would be possible?"

14:37 - Pound tumbles against euro again as British ministers quit over Brexit deal

The pound has dropped once again as several British government ministers resigned on Thursday morning in opposition to the Brexit withdrawal agreement, spelling bad news and more insecurity for British pensioners throughout Europe.

The pound saw its biggest drop in 17 months 0.5 per cent to below €1.14 as several top level British ministers quit their posts in protest over the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Among them were Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey. 

14:34 - France is still readying for a no-deal Brexit

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned Thursday that despite a draft accord between London and the EU on Britain's exit from the bloc, the prospect of Britain's crashing out without a deal was "still on the table" and so preparations must carry on.

"There's no way to know if an accord will finally be agreed," Philippe said during a visit to Dunkirk, northern France, to discuss the eventual consequences of Brexit for French port operations.

"It will not have escaped attention that British political news might feed questions and worries as to whether the accord will effectively be ratified," he said. 

Read the full story on The Local France.

14:24 - NO FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT FOR BRITS IN EUROPE

The big news for British citizens in Europe is that freedom of movement has been excluded (again) from the latest draft. 

"Union citizens and United Kingdom nationals shall have the right to reside in the host State under the limitations and conditions as set out in Articles 21, 45 or 49 TFEU and in Article 6(1), points (a), (b) or (c) of Article 7(1), Article 7(3), Article 14, Article 16(1) or Article 17(1) of Directive 2004/38/EC."

Lots of numbers and jargon, but the latest draft agreement effectively ends any hopes rights groups had of retaining the right to onward movement within the EU. The draft agreement grants Brits, who meet the right requirements (still five years of residency at the end of the withdrawal period – December 2020), rights in their host country only. 

British in Europe have said the Brexit deal "fails five million people." 

14:13 - Some more reaction from Sweden

This from my colleagues at The Local Sweden. 

14:12 - The draft text confirms that freedom of movement has been excluded from the agreed package on citizenship rights.

"The March draft did not include free movement but simply confirmed (most, not all) rights in the country of residence.  The November draft does not add the right of continuing free movement to this.  During transition, however, until December 2020, things would stay as they are as the full Single Market acquis continues to apply until then," Jane Golding, chair of British in Europe, told The Local.

13:43 - Chancellor Merkel is also reportedly happy about the deal

Read the full story on The Local Germany. 

12:47 - British in Europe and the3million issue statement about the latest deal. The statement says "free movement has been excluded." 

The largest grassroots group campaigning for the rights of Brits in Europe, British in Europe, has issued a statement expressing "anger" and "disappointment." 

"Despite good progress at the early stage of the negotiations, the talks stalled when the focus switched to the Irish border, with crucial issues such as freedom of movement for British citizens in Europe and lifelong rights to return remaining unsolved in the agreement presented by Theresa May last night," said British in Europe in the statement. 

British in Europe highlighted key concerns that have not been met. Losing free movement, "which our members rely on for work and family", was the main one. 

"3.6 million EU citizens living in the UK have to pay to apply to stay in their home, will undergo systematic criminality checks and can lose the new status if family or work obligations mean they have to leave the country for five years," adds the statement. 

“the3million feels betrayed by the Brexit negotiators. Despite early progress in the negotiations, over three million EU citizens in the UK, including 700,000 EU children, are now facing a lifelong limbo under the Withdrawal Agreement," says Nicolas Hatton, chair of the3million group, which represents EU citizens in the UK. 

"We are still bargaining chips, as the negotiators will soon discuss the future relationship, with our lives still in the balance. As a reminder, the Withdrawal Agreement does not protect our existing rights, and shamefully creates more insecurity by allowing the Home Office to pick and choose the EU citizens they want to keep,” added Hatton. 

“We were told in March that citizens’ rights were a done deal and that discussions on this would not be re-opened. However it is clear from the text that some changes have in fact been made, meaning that it is unacceptable and upsetting that free movement – a lifeline for many of us - has been excluded when both sides knew it was critical for us," added Jane Golding, co-chair of British in Europe. 

"Brexit Secretaries come and Brexit Secretaries go.  But unlike  Dominic Raab our members don't have the luxury of walking away from this mess.  His resignation only adds to the uncertainty that millions of people have been experiencing for two years. It is now up to the European Parliament, not only to walk the talk on its red lines – free movement in our case – but to put pressure on all sides to ring-fence the agreement on citizens’ rights so that 4.6mn people can sleep at night now whatever happens on Brexit," adds Golding.  

12:19 - Voices in Gibraltar have issued a sigh of relief with a deal in sight. My colleagues at The Local Spain have all the details. 

Gibraltar welcomes Brexit deal as 'far better than crashing out with no-deal’

Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was among the few politicians to welcome Theresa May's deal with the European Union stating that it “worked from the point of view of Gibraltar”.

Read the full story on The Local Spain.

11:45 - Danish business confederation expresses relief at potential deal

The Confederation of Danish Industry is happy that "the transitional agreement provides a certain amount of clarity for businesses that have long lived with uncertainty caused by Brexit."

We will be sending you a full feature on what is at stake for Danish regions and industries this week as part of our Europe & You weekly newsletter on Brexit. So if you haven't yet signed up, now is an optimum time to do so. 

For now, you can read a brief story on The Local Denmark. 

11:40 - What next for Brits in France?

How does a deal affect Brits in France? Do they still need to get a carte de séjour? My colleagues at The Local France have the rundown for you. 

With London and Brussels reaching a deal on Britain's departure from the EU, many Britons in France are asking questions about what it means for them in reality, not least do they still need to apply for a residency permit? Here's a Q&A on some of the main topics.

Read the full story on The Local France.

11:35 - The French are happy there is a deal (apparently). 

Brexit deal is 'good news for French economy'

A proposed Brexit withdrawal agreement is "good news for the French economy", but Paris must keep an eye on its implementation, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Thursday.

Read the full story on The Local France.

11-31 – View of an EU citizen in London

We continue to receive comments from many Brits in the EU, but we also want to highlight the plight of EU citizens living in the UK. This from Vanja, a Swedish citizens resident in London.

"My comment to the current situation is : a lot of swedes living in the UK are considering moving back . Brexit is one big reason because it has given rise to a lot of uncertainty about our rights , our jobs and our futures . Also, the sentiment that Brexit sent is that somehow we are not welcome, personally something I take very hard being an immigrant for most part of my life. Sad really because London has been such an international hub and a genuine fantastic place for world citizens."

11:30 - Brexit secretary  resigns

Big news from the UK. Three cabinet ministers have resigned, including Minister for Exiting the European "The regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom," wrote Raab in his resignation letter (in full below). 

11:21 - EU summit announced for November 25th

Good morning. We will be adding a few posts today to keep you updated on all the latest developments. Some bid news today. First up: Donald Tusk has announced the EU will hold a summit on November 25th in which the EU is expected to sign off on the proposed deal text.

November 14th

20:26 - Goodnight

Theresa May has survived the first presentation of the deal to her cabinet. The sterner tests will no doubt come when she presents it to parliament. For now, we say goodnight and until tomorrow. 

20:23 - PM Theresa May makes a statement after the cabinet meeting 

Theresa May will make a statement in parliament tomorrow, but announces that the cabinet has endorsed the draft withdrawal text. She adds that this draft agreement is the "best deal in the interest of the entire United Kingdom." 

May say that it was "the best that could be negotiated." She calls it a "a deal that delivers." 

The choice was this deal, no deal or no Brexit at all, she says. 

20:14 - You can watch the live stream of PM May's imminent statement here after that marathon cabinet meeting which lasted nearly five hours.  

20:09 - Regardless of what comes next, grassroots citizenship rights group British in Europe are expressing betrayal at how the British side has handled the issue of citizenship rights. 

20:02 - Drumroll. The UK cabinet meeting is over and PM Theresa May should address the media waiting outside her official residence soon.

18:38 - Summary of key happenings today

As Theresa May and her cabinet continue to discuss what could be the most important political text of the century in the UK, citizens and politicians alike in the EU await the outcome of those discussions. Is the reported deal then likely to eventually make it through the UK parliament?

Brits in Europe will be disappointed to hear that freedom of movement seems off the table. "The citizens’ rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement was agreed in full back in March," Daniel Ferrie, an EU Commission spokesman, told The Local. The statement implies there are no new developments on citizenship rights in the latest draft text. 

 

The March Withdrawal Agreement granted Brits the right to retain their EU rights in one country, not across the EU27. The Local France has a summary of where we are with citizenship rights.

More news expected at 8pm GMT+1, when the UK cabinet meeting is expected to end and British PM Theresa May is expected to address either the press or the UK parliament. 

18:36: More updates soon

We are going to reduce the number of updates from now on, but worry not, we'll be here to clarify any breaking news. UK cabinet meeting now expected to end at 7pm UK time. 

18:28 - View from the north

Some reflections on Brexit from a former Finnish prime minister, Alexander Stubb. 

18:23 - Tony Blair talks

Former British PM Tony Blair says the British public deserve another vote now that there is more than "claim and counter claim" about what Brexit will look like. He was talking to the BBC. 

18:17 - As we wait for news of news of the UK's cabinet meeting, here is the latest summary of where we at with citizenship rights. An EU Commission spokesman told The Local that "the citizens’ rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement was agreed in full back in March." So no freedom of movement for Brits in Europe. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: Brexit deal does not deliver on the rights of Britons in Europe

18:13 - The leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Nicola Sturgeon has once again expressed frustrations about how a Brexit deal would affect Scotland.

Sturgeon had earlier suggested the reported Brexit deal could leave Scotland competing for investment with Northern Ireland. 

18:06 - Hello again. We resume our live blog as we wait for British PM Theresa May to address journalists outside 10 Downing Street following a key discussion with her cabinet this afternoon about the text that has apparently been agreed by EU and UK negotiators. Those discussions are reportedly lasting longer than expected. 

15:54 - I'll be taking a brief break and will be back later with any new breaking developments. Meanwhile, here's a good read from Fiona Govan, editor of the The Local Spain, on how Brits are reacting there to news of a potential deal.

READ ALSO: 'Deal? What deal?': Reaction from Brits in Spain

15:51 - Summary of key happenings today

As Theresa May and her cabinet discuss what could be the most important political text of the century in the UK, citizens and politicians alike in the EU await the outcome of those discussions. Is the deal likely to eventually make it through the UK parliament?

Brits in Europe will be disappointed to hear that freedom of movement seems off the table. "The citizens’ rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement was agreed in full back in March," Daniel Ferrie, an EU Commission spokesman, told The Local. The statement implies there are no new developments on citizenship rights in the latest draft text. 

The March Withdrawal Agreement granted Brits the right to retain their EU rights in one country, not across the EU27. The Local France has a summary of where we are with citizenship rights.

READ ALSO: 'More holes than cheese': A recap of what Theresa May's Brexit deal means for Brits in Europe

15:43 - Dutch bank ING is warning in a new report that the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary could be hit particularly hard by Brexit, according to Reuters. 

15:31 - Just spoke to Jane Golding, chair of British in Europe. "There's many a slip between the cup and the lip," says Golding, adding that she has not seen the latest reported text and cannot therefore comment on it. "If these reports of a deal are true, and it gets through the cabinet, then this is a breakthrough. But the big challenge is whether it will make it through parliament in the UK," adds Golding. The Local France is about to publish a full story on this, so stay tuned. 

15:18 - "We will not comment on the various press reports in the past 24 hours," a European Commission spokesman said in today's press briefing. "We will inform you if there are any updates today or in the coming days." The EU could make another statement later today, according to the same spokesman. 

15:10 BREAKING - The latest draft text does not contain any new developments on citizenship rights vis-a-vis the already agreed text in the Withdrawal Agreement in March 2018, according to an EU Commission spokesman. 

"The citizens’ rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement was agreed in full back in March," Daniel Ferrie, an EU Commission spokesman, told The Local. 

14:25 - I'll be logging off for a few moments, but don't go anywhere, because this blog is by no means done. Meanwhile, here is an interesting read from colleagues at The Local France. 

The number of French citizens in the UK could be decimated by Brexit as many look to leave.

More than one in ten French people in Britain want to leave after Brexit

More than one in ten - or 13 percent - French people currently living in Britain want to leave the UK once Brexit has gone through, a new poll reveals.

It seems that unsurprisingly a significant number of French people in Britain are feeling the Brexit burn. 
A survey by polling agency OpinionWay, released on Tuesday, showed that 13 percent of French people in Britain - there are an estimated 300,000 - want to leave once the UK leaves the European Union on March 29th next year. 
 

14:19 - Turmoil at the House of Commons. 

14:17"We don't want fisheries to lead us to a no-deal scenario." 

14:12 - If you are frustrated about fake news published about the EU, you are not the only one. Check out the European Commission's published 'A-Z Index of Euromyths 1992 to 2017'. Fake news has reportedly engulfed everything from bagpipes and bananas to beer, bulldogs and candles – and much more. 

14:01 - "We demand that Parliament is able to amend and propose alternatives to whatever deal the Government brings forward," says Jeremy Corbyn, head of the opposition Labour party. 

13:57 - Britain's former chancellor and current editor of London's the Evening Standard, George Osborne, has opted for the following front cover headline. 

13:53 - A spokeswoman for the EU Commission published this post yesterday, with advice for a no-deal, just as news was breaking that there could be a deal. All part of the smoke and mirrors of Brexit, one guesses. 

13:49 - Comments from Brits in Europe

John Williams, a 72-year-old British pensioner who has been a resident in Germany for 10 years, is also concerned about his future. 

13:46 - Comments from many of you across the EU have been flying in. Christine-Marie Esteve, a British pensioner living in France, is concerned as to whether her health insurance card, which expires in March 2019, will be renewed. She is also concerned about how she could meet what could be exorbitant costs for health treatment after Brexit. 

"The French authorities have already started to refuse the carte de séjour (ED: permanent residency card) to Brits and given some pensioners just 30 days to leave the country, effectively making them homeless as they leave their properties behind. Properties are increasingly difficult to sell. Nobody consulted us - never mind the border policy with Northern Ireland. And we are all heartily sick of the UK media focus on this as if it is just a punch up between different sections of the Tory party," Christine-Marie told The Local by email. 

13:39 - Andrew Cummings, a Brit living in Sweden, revisits some of the misery in the evolution of the UK public's view of the EU in the comment below. 

"So, when the UK joined the EU in 1973 without a referendum, that was undemocratic.  Brexiteers not happy. Then we had the referendum in 2016 and got the result we have.  Brexiteers happy. Then as the reality of what we had voted for became clearer, the calls for a second referendum became louder.  Brexiteers not happy as would be an affront to democracy.  A referendum is, after all a referendum. Now, when the democratically elected government reaches some kind of agreement with the EU to take the UK out……. no one is happy," Cummings told The Local. 

13:33 - Reaction from Germany

Writing in Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, Cathrin Kahlweit suggests Brits have developed a form of 'Brexit fatigue' and will simply be happy to hear news of a deal. 

"For many Brits, Brexit is not the priority –  they want X-ray machines that work, trains that circulate, social services that pay out money," wrote Kahlweit. 

13:26 - Representatives from the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe (COBCOE) reportedly met with the British government yesterday to discuss the agreement. The Belgian branch of COBCOE meanwhile published a piece outlining preparations for a no-deal scenario on the same day, November 13th. 

In the event of a no-deal, "we can expect significant disruption at all UK/EU borders – notably with France, Belgium, the Netherlands and in main airports," states the post, emphasizing what most people already know. 

13:18 - Citizenship rights group in France express mixture feelings

A mixture of relief and frustration from citizenship rights groups representing Brits across the EU. This from Kalba Meadows of Remain In France Together (RIFT).

"There's no doubt that for citizens' rights a deal is better than no deal, so there are 5 million people today with their hearts in their mouths. But even if the deal is accepted by the cabinet today there's a long way to go ... it still has to get though the UK and European parliaments, so nobody can start counting chickens just yet. And obviously without seeing the text we can't properly evaluate the text or make any judgement on exactly where it leaves us," Meadows told The Local.

READ ALSO: 'More holes than cheese': A recap of what Theresa May's Brexit deal means for Brits in Europe

READ ALSO: OPINION: It's time to ring-fence citizens rights before Brexit

READ ALSO: 'They're fleeing Brexit': More Brits moving to Germany despite uncertainty

READ ALSO: 'I feel slightly more German': Reflections of a Brit after taking the German citizenship test

13:10 - Mumbles from Prime Minister's Question Time in UK.

Laughter at #PMQs as @theresa_may grins broadly as she delivers the usual "this morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others"

— Andrew Woodcock (@AndyWoodcock) November 14, 2018

12:55 - No slacking

In case you think that the author of this blog is going to take a lunch break and deprive you of vital updates, think again good Sirs and Madams. Lunch breaks are for the other slackers at The Local. I will be merely grabbing a coffee for five minutes before returning with the latest reactions from across the EU. 

12:53 - Reaction from Spain

Spain-based grassroots citizenship rights group Eurocitizens has put out the following statement. 

"For British citizens in Spain a deal is much better than a no-deal scenario as it protects some of our key rights like residency in our host country, healthcare for UK pensioners and social security coordination — while losing other ones like freedom of movement and the ability to deliver cross-border services."

The full statement is here

12:50 - As we wait with bated breath to see if Britain's top politicians endorse the divorce text, my colleague Ben McPartland, editor of The Local France, has the latest on citizenship rights and what is at stake for the up to 3.6 million Brits living in the EU on the front lines of Brexit. 

READ ALSO: 'More holes than cheese': A recap of what Theresa May's Brexit deal means for Brits in Europe

12:42 - France not interested

News of an impending agreement may be captivating British media and audiences, but across the Channel, the French seem to have bigger priorities. 

12:38 - Some clever clogs out there are placing doubt on the British cabinet's ability to speed read.

12:34 - There is something positive about it all in the state of Denmark.

Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen called it a “positive signal” that agreement had been reached between May and the EU’s negotiators, but said “more was needed” in comments made to national broadcaster DR.

“Formally, we don’t know what the content (of the agreement) is yet,” Rasmussen, who is currently hosting talks with Liberal prime ministers from seven EU countries, said. “What we, as Liberals, are concerned with is that there is balance and we don’t enter into a system in which the British are given unintended competitive advantages,” said PM Rasmussen. 

12:31 - Brits in Italy call on government to protect their rights with legislation

In an editorial in Italian daily Corriere della Sera, British in Italy's Jeremy Morgan and Delia Dumaresq write (IT): "If there is no deal, at midnight on March 29th, when Britain exits the EU, we will suddenly become illegal immigrants, with no recognized status." In the case of a no-deal, the authors call on the Italian government to create legislation to protect their rights, similar to the kind of legislation the French and German governments have planned. 

12:24 - Football news

On a side note, The Times and Sky are reporting that each Premier League team could be limited to 12 foreign players after Brexit. 

12:09 - Swedes are having a laugh

Media in Sweden seem to be watching events unfold while expecting the worst. The Swedish EU correspondent from daily Dagens Nyheter tweeted: "Good news so far for PM Theresa May: no minister has yet resigned". 

12:06 - "A deal has been reached in the last few hours but we must remain prudent," an EU diplomat told (FR) French daily Le Monde yesterday evening, citing potential difficulties Theresa May could face in convincing her own pack. 

12:00 - Citizenship rights group are expressing disappointment.

"We have been repeatedly saying that the claims by HMG that "they have delivered on citizens' rights", is entirely false. The draft agreement only touches upon some treaty rights, and ignore the rest. The draft has not been ring-fenced, as we have constantly asked for it to be, and HMG still talk about "no deal being better than a bad deal". In the event of no deal, our rights will be lost. Onward freedom of movement has not yet been agreed, and many UK citizens in the EU rely on this for their livelihood," Brian Robinson from Brexpats Hear Our Voice (BHOV), told The Local.

11:56 - What happens next if Theresa May can convince her cabinet they have got a decent deal?

11:48 - Irish fears

It isn't just the British cabinet that is meeting to discuss the text of the potential agreement. The Irish cabinet is also reportedly meeting today to discuss the text. 

Yesterday a spokesman for Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney seemed to pour scorn on the idea that everything was wrapped up in the negotiations, which could suggest the proposed backstop to avoid a hard border in Ireland is not to the pleasing of the Irish government. 

11:41 - Discontent across the British political spectrum

British politicians from across the political spectrum have expressed resistance to the new agreement. The usual suspect Brexiters such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson have had their say, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon have all expressed doubt as to whether they could vote through the agreement in Parliament. Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson's brother and the former transport minister – who resigned last week – expressed his disappointment to Radio4 Today in an interview yesterday. 

"We were promised a low tax Singaporean tiger on the edge of Europe. On the contrary, we're signing up to the rules and regulations that bind the rest of the EU." 

11:33 - Those campaigning for a People's Vote are not satisfied either. 

11:31 - Citizenship rights group BremainInSpain isn't convinced about the breakthrough. 

11:24 - Reaction from business leader

Initial reactions from business leaders suggest it may take longer than a cabinet meeting to assess the quality of the agreement. Nigel Green, head of financial services  group deVere, said in a statement: "We won’t know if the Brexit deal is good, bad or ugly for another 10 years.  If you’re serious about creating, building and safeguarding wealth in the next decade, you need to consider global opportunities."

And for those who think Brexit might just be all over? “Make no mistake, this is not the end but the beginning of the Brexit process," adds Green. 

11:18 - Opposition to the latest agreement has been pouring out from both the UK and from EU partners.  Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, the Conservative's partner in the current UK government, is indicating that her party could vote against "an agreement which places new trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain." In a statement, Foster says: "That is not acceptable." 

11:06 - The draft text the British cabinet is consulting has not actually been leaked yet, although comments are flooding in from the UK and the EU as to what it could contain. The German Chambers of Commerce and Industries President Erik Schweizer has again called, in a statement (DE) today, for "a regulated Brexit" in order to appease the impact on companies and "to avoid the worst". 

10:53 - "At this point in time, only the cabinet have seen the text of the 'deal'. However, we are concerned that any Brexit deal will be bad for our members and bad for the UK," says Brian Robinson from EU-wide Brexpats - Hear Our Voice group.

"We know that public opinion has changed radically and we support the People's Vote. Our preference would be that MPs act in accordance with what they, themselves, judge to be in the UK’s best interest. That judgement should be expressed in a meaningful ‘free’ vote in the House of Commons," he tells The Local France.

10:01 - The British in Europe group is calling the deal an "own goal" that allows EU citizens continued free movement to the UK while denying it to Brits across the bloc. 

10:00 - Are you signed up for our Europe & You newsletter? We send out a digest of our latest Brexit-related news and features every Friday. You can sign up here. Here's last week's to give you an idea of what you can expect:

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Dear reader,

Time marches on, and with no deal in sight we'll dive straight into The Local's coverage, starting with campaigners who formed a human chain in London demanding assurances on citizens' rights. 

Remember man-with-van Andy Pardy and his epic trans-European 'Stop Brexit' roadtrip? Well, we checked back in with him now that he's reached the end of his journey. Click for the story, stay for the gorgeous pics

Our Brexit correspondent Alex Macbeth also spoke to regional government representatives in Hauts-de-France to find out what's at stake for the northern French region and how it's coping. 

Scroll on for all the rest of our Brexit coverage from across The Local's network over the past week. 

Thanks for reading!

Paul O'Mahony
paul.omahony@thelocal.com
Managing editor, The Local Europe

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