While many British expats living in Málaga have begun to express fears for what may become of their status in Spain, officials in the United Kingdom have emphasised that the rights of British immigrants living in the EU and European Union citizens living in the U.K. will be guaranteed and that their rights should be addressed early on in Brexit negotiations.
“I want a reciprocal agreement in terms of guaranteeing the status of EU citizens and UK citizens,” she said to BBC late on Wednesday. “I think this should be done at an early stage.”
Mrs May also said “I believe from the talks I’ve had with other leaders that there is a good will there and that there are those who recognise the importance of giving people reassurance. And I think we will be able to address this as one of the early things that we talk about in the negotiations.”
Her statements came soon after she signed, sealed and delivered the Article 50 letter of activation to the EU President Donald Tusk.To what may be a relief to many of the hundreds of thousands of British immigrants in Spain, Thresa May made it clear she wants to answer the expat question early on in Brexit negotiations, while U.K. Ambassador to Spain Simon Manley that cross-border free movement for Gibraltar must also be a priority in the negotiations.
During an interview with EFE, the ambassador gave assurances to British citizens residing in Spain and their Spanish counterparts in the U.K. that their rights will be looked after during the talks, which are expected to last close to two years.
“For the moment, nothing has changed. It is of the utmost importance that we put citizens first,” Manley said.