The British Home Secretary says British expats should not be charged for living abroad after the UK leaves the European Union.  His move came as PM Theresa May scrapped the planned fee of £56 for EU citizens who want to reside in the UK after Brexit.

“deserve the same certainty and reassurance that we have given their counterparts living here.”

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is reported to have written Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit co-ordinator in the European Parliament, and Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, asking for Britons abroad to be given peace of mind.  He says that UK nationals living in the EU, “deserve the same certainty and reassurance that we have given their counterparts living here.” He also pointed out the “valuable contribution” which is made in Europe by the estimated 1.3 million British expats living in EU countries.

Mr Javid asked Mr Verhofstadt to “press” EU countries for a guarantee that there will be no “settled status fee” for Britons living abroad.   It has already been agreed by the EU that British citizens travelling to the Schengen area after Brexit would be allowed to do so for up to three months without a visa.

Encouragingly, Mr Verhofstadt, who is in favour of fees being scrapped, has already welcomed the UK’s call to waive settled status fees.  He said, “ It’s time for the EU27 to show the same spirit and reciprocate.”

Meanwhile, EU rules on post-Brexit travel published last month raised hackles in British diplomatic circles because of a footnote which described Gibraltar as, “a colony of the British Crown.”  The prime minister’s office in London responded angrily, “It is completely unacceptable to describe Gibraltar as a colony in this way.  Gibraltar is a full part of the UK family.”

The Rock’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo accused Madrid of trying to “bully” the British Overseas Territory by rejecting British demands for the footnote to be removed.