Brexit vote: ‘It’s now time to take the rights of Britons off the negotiating table’

The UK parliament rejected Theresa May's Brexit deal again on Tuesday. Rights groups, as well as political and business leaders in the EU, reacted with dismay and a sense of resignation.

Brexit vote: 'It's now time to take the rights of Britons off the negotiating table'
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaking to the house after losing the second meaningful vote on the government's Brexit deal, in the House of Commons in London on March 12, 2019. Photo: AFP/PRU.

Theresa May's eleventh-hour trip to Strasbourg to get last minute assurances from EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker meant little to British MPs who overwhelmingly rejected her deal once again.

A majority of 149 MPs rejected the terms of the withdrawal agreement she had negotiated with Brussels.

A subsequent vote on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal is now scheduled for Wednesday March 13th. If MPs take a no-deal off the table, another vote on an extension to Article 50 will be held on Thursday March 14th. 

Rights of UKinEU and EUinUK in peril

After the vote citizens rights activists were left feeling more insecure about their futures than ever.

“Tonight we've taken a step even further into uncertainty on our rights. Everyone needs to remember that a vote tomorrow against a no deal doesn't actually stop a no deal exit – only an approved withdrawal agreement or revocation of Article 50 can do that,” Kalba Meadows, coordinator of rights advocacy group Remain in France Together, (RIFT) told The Local.

“So more than ever we need the European Council to ring fence our rights – the risks are very high. And an extension doesn't remove those risks – the same choices between deal, no deal and revocation still exist, whenever a new Article 50 date is. The 5 million Brits in the EU and EU citizens in the UK have spent nearly 3 years in limbo, and we're suffering. Only ring-fencing can give us the security we need right now,” adds Meadows.

Jane Golding chair of British in Europe echoed the call to immediately ring-fence the rights of Britons in the EU.

“This vote result is no surprise. But there are only 17 days to go until 29 March and people still don’t know what their status will be, whether they will be able to travel and re-enter the countries where they live, what will happen if they are applying for jobs, or to their pension contributions and healthcare if they are pensioners,” she told The Local.

“No deal is a disaster which is why once again we call on the EU and the UK to ringfence the citizens' rights part of the withdrawal agreement now, before it's too late to take real people's lives' off the negotiating table’.  It’s about our fundamental rights and the promises that were made to us,” she said.

European political and business leaders reacted with dismay and disappointment to the vote. 

The French president said he “regretted” the vote by the British parliament.

“The solution to this impasse can only be found in London,” read a statement from the Elysée.

“Gordian Brexit node remains unresolved”

“The decision of the British House of Commons is a bitter disappointment from an economic point of view. The danger of unregulated withdrawal from the EU and the associated economic and legal uncertainty continues to hover over the economy. In addition to significant new Brexit bureaucracy, the demolition of supply chains and a breakdown of “just-in-time” productions in the UK are threatening,” Eric Schweitzer, president of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement.

In addition, more than 10 million customs declarations and several billion euros in customs duties would be due annually for German companies. The companies still have no planning certainty in the UK business. Therefore, companies should prepare now at the latest on the basis of the DIHK Brexit checklist. Unfortunately, the Gordian Brexit node remains unresolved,” added Schweitzer.

“The EU has done everything it can to help get the Withdrawal Agreement over the line. The impasse can only be solved in the #UK. Our “no-deal” preparations are now more important than ever before,” tweeted the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

His thoughts we echoed by MPs and leaders in Spain, France, Sweden and Germany.

It now remains to be seen if the UK parliament will opt for an extension to Article 50 and if the EU would even grant one. The next EU Council summit on March 21st-22nd could be when we find out. 

READ MORE: RECAP: 'We've taken a step further into uncertainty on our rights': UK nationals in EU react to May's defeat


Member comments

  1. Theresa May MUST have been a paid sock-puppet of the nihilst fake-“Libertarian” billianaires, Russian Mafia and other Gleeful Destroyers — from day one. No one could have been as STAGGERINGLY incompetent as she (and her fellow Professional Thief Tory accomplices) have been. That feigned “incompetence” can only be explained as her and her Overlords’ deliberate effort to wreck Britain, so that THEY can “pick up the pieces” . . . for a song.

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Summer travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

If you're travelling between Spain and the UK this summer and want to take some of your favourite treats with you, here's what you should know about the food and drink rules post-Brexit so you don't get caught out by customs.

Summer travel between Spain and the UK: What can I not pack in my suitcase?

Flying to the UK from Spain

For those flying to the UK from Spain, the rules are relatively lax.

Note, if you’re spending the summer in Northern Ireland there are different rules on food and animal products. Find them here. 

You can bring the following products from Spain into the UK without worrying about any restrictions:

  • bread, but not sandwiches filled with meat or dairy products
  • cakes without fresh cream
  • biscuits
  • chocolate and confectionery, but not those made with unprocessed dairy ingredients
  • pasta and noodles, but not if mixed or filled with meat or meat products
  • packaged soup, stocks and flavourings
  • processed and packaged plant products, such as packaged salads and frozen plant material
  • food supplements containing small amounts of an animal product, such as fish oil capsules

Meat, dairy, fish and animal products

If, like many of us, you have friends and family already putting in their orders for stocks of jamón serrano, know that the rules on bringing meat, dairy, fish and other animal products into the UK are relatively relaxed. You can bring in meat, fish, dairy and other animal products as long as they’re from the EU, so your jamón and Manchego cheese are safe. 

what food can and cannot bring between spain and the uk

You will still be able to bring cured Spanish ham from Spain to the UK. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

Alcohol allowance

For many, the big one, but there are some limits on how much booze you can bring in from Spain and the EU more generally. How much you can bring depends on the type of alcohol, so get up to speed on the limits and make sure your favourite Rioja and Cava aren’t taken off you or heavily taxed:


  • beer – 42 litres
  • still wine – 18 litres
  • spirits and other liquors over 22 percent alcohol – 4 litres
  • sparkling wine, fortified wine (port, sherry etc) and other alcoholic drinks up to 22 percent alcohol (not including beer or still wine) – 9 litres

It’s worth knowing that you can split your allowance, for example you could bring 4.5 litres of fortified wine and 2 litres of spirits (both half of your allowance).

Flying into Spain from the UK

While British borders are laid back when it comes to travelling with food and drink, the rules are much tougher when entering the EU from the UK.

Most importantly, tea bags – longed for by Brits the world over – are allowed. Marmite, which is vegan, is also fine to bring but Bovril, which contains beef stock, is not.

Travellers arriving in the EU from Britain can, according to the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC), bring the following quantities of alcohol, so if you fancy a British tipple in Spain over the summer such as Pimm’s it is possible, within reason: 4 litres of still wine and 16 litres of beer, 1 litre of spirits, or 2 litres of sparkling or fortified wine.

If you arrive in the EU from a non-EU country, you cannot bring any meat or dairy products with you. That means no Wensleydale, no Cornish Brie in your ploughman’s lunch and no British bacon to enjoy in Spain for English breakfast fry-ups.

Ploughman's lunch

British cheese for your Ploughman’s lunch is not allowed. Photo: Glammmur / WikiCommons

The EU’s strict rules mean that all imports of animal-derived products technically come under these rules, so even your custard powder to make rhubarb fool or bars of your favourite chocolate are now banned, because of the milk.

Be aware, however Spanish customs do not always check your suitcase, so you may be able to get away with bringing in a small packaged item such as a chocolate bar, without it being confiscated. 

Similarly, if you’re planning on asking a friend or family member to bring you over some sweets, cakes, or other home comforts, be aware that the ban includes all products that contain any meat or dairy as an ingredient – which includes items like chocolate, fudge, and some sweets (because of the gelatine.)

You are allowed to bring a small quantity of fruit and vegetables as well as eggs, some egg products, and honey. Restricted quantities of fish or fish products are also allowed: eviscerated fresh fish products (gutted, with all the organs removed), and processed fishery products are allowed up to 20 kg or 1 fish, so you can enjoy some Scottish smoked salmon in Spain over the summer if you want.

If you’re travelling with kids, note that powdered infant milk, infant food and specifically required medical foods are allowed up to 2kg, as is the case for pet foods. 

Clotted cream for cream teas won’t be allowed to be brought into Spain. Photo: Tuxraider reloaded / WikiCommons

This means that even the classic British summertime favourites such as sausage rolls, scotch eggs, packaged trifle and clotted cream for your cream tea will not be allowed because of the meat and dairy they contain.

It is worth noting that these strict EU rules also apply to sending products by post, so if you were hoping to get around the newly applicable legislation by having someone send you a delivery some Devon fudge, they will probably be intercepted and confiscated by Spain’s postal service, unfortunately. 

READ ALSO: Are there limits on bringing medicines into Spain?