BiE Newsletter: 23/09/2020 Help us lobby for our right to return to the UK with our non-UK families See in your browser
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Dear Briton in Europe,

In our last newsletter (3 September), we mentioned our long-standing lobbying campaign on the UK Immigration Bill. This is crucial legislation for us as it removes our existing right to return to Britain with our non-UK families. From March 2022 they will come under the tough British immigration rules, meaning that we will have to be earning £18,600 a year and our partner's income will only count if s/he has been earning in the UK for more than six months.

When we moved to the EU/EEA we did so expecting to keep our rights for life and, if necessary, to be able to return to Britain with our non-UK families. Our loss of this right could make it impossible, for those of us with family members of a different nationality, to go back to look after elderly parents - unless we are prepared to live apart from our partners. While Britons, legally resident in the EU before the end of the transition period, will face these restrictions, EU citizens who have moved to the UK before 1 January 2021 will not. Under the Withdrawal Agreement they can bring existing family members to the UK for life, as well as keeping their right to return to their country of birth with the families they have made in their new homes. The perverse result is that the UK government's approach will discriminate against its own citizens

Next week, on 30 September in the House of Lords, there will be a debate at the Report Stage of the Immigration Bill and we would like peers to vote for the amendment that will be put forward for BiE. You can help us by writing to a peer and encouraging your family to do the same - see below an outline and a list of peers.

Please share this with other Britons living in the EU. Thanking you in advance for your help.

With best wishes,


BiE Steering Team


P.S. Whilst we are on the subject of UK government legislation, see below the statement put out by British in Europe and the3million on 11 September, condemning the decision not to honour a part of the Withdrawal Agreement.



BiE Steering Group member, Debbie Williams, explains why this issue is so important for us.

Did you know that British citizens living overseas and their non-EU spouses/partners and children already have to meet stringent Home Office rules, if they need to return to live in the UK? This even applies to ex-servicemen and women and their non-EU Families.

The current British Government is now attempting to enforce these rules on UK citizens with European families, using the argument of levelling the playing field. What it does is deprive families - that have built their lives on the UK’s membership of the EU - of their existing rights. From now on every British citizen, who falls in love and has a family with a non-British person, will lose the automatic right to return to the UK. Income requirements will exclude many if not almost all of these families.

This is not levelling the playing field; it is a race to the bottom on rights, separating families, keeping loved ones apart. It is despicable, inhumane and being enforced by a British Government on its own people.



This is an outline for those living in the EU to use when writing to peers. Please get your UK-based families to write as well, adapting it to their situation - especially if they are a parent of a UK national in the EU who is worried about facing old age and possible infirmity without their child being there to care for them.

Ideas for an email to a peer of the realm:

  • I am writing to ask you to support British in Europe’s Immigration Bill amendment which would reverse a change in the law that is causing me, and thousands of others in my position, great anxiety for my family’s future.

  • Describe briefly who you are. Example: you are a British citizen living in Germany with your German husband and your children; you have parents in the UK who may well need care as they become older and more frail; your husband has parents in Germany who may also need future care. Describe your own situation here and give more details if you can. Say more about how you feel about the dilemma that you may face in future.. 

  • Like all other British citizens who moved to the EU while Britain was a member, I had - and expected to keep - an almost unfettered right to return to the UK with my family.  At the time I left the UK, my parents were safe in the knowledge that I could always come back should the need arise.

  • Many of us met a non-UK partner while in the EU and made a family with them believing that our family would remain united wherever we lived. 

  • Unless this Bill is amended our right to return home with our families will be removed on March 29 2022, leading to impossible choices for me and thousands of families like mine and creating yet even more Skype children.  See the BiE briefing paper for more details.

  • The Government’s answer is that they have given us fifteen months from the end of transition to return with our families to the UK. Even ignoring the massive practical difficulties of uprooting adults from work and children from school at a time when there may be no need to do so, as Baroness Hamwee put it so well in Committee:

“I simply ask the Minister what she would advise a couple, one British and one an EU national, who both have elderly parents. She is suggesting that they should pick between them for future care by the end of 2022. Is this really a humane approach?”


Please choose from this list of peers and send him/her your email as soon as possible and before Tuesday 29 September at the very latest. 


 BiE Statement on the Internal Market Bill

11/09/2020: With the Internal Market Bill, which is currently being debated in the Commons, the UK government has shown its intention not to honour a part of the Withdrawal Agreement which it signed only nine months ago. The decision to break an international treaty damages the trust between the EU and the UK and adds further uncertainty for EU citizens in the UK and Britons in the EU. British in Europe and the3million urge the Prime Minister to make it clear that he will honour his country's obligations to EU nationals covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. At the same time, we call upon EU countries to reaffirm the importance of the rule of law and to honour the promises that were made to UK citizens living in the EU.

See the full statement here.

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