Ring-fencing our rights in the case of no-deal is a moral duty

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Dear fellow EU citizen,

On Tuesday, I got lost in the Liverpool Conference centre and bumped into Hilary Benn MP, chair of the Brexit Select Committee, on my way to see him speak at a Labour Conference fringe event organised by the Institute for Government about future immigration policies.

We chit-chatted en route to the meeting room, stopping and speaking on the way with various people including the charming Finish ambassador Päivi Luostarinen, the caring Sikh for Labour (thank you for the banana - I hadn't eaten yet) and a delegation from Kazakstan. 

Hilary Benn moments before signing the pledge by Sikh for Labour

The meeting room was packed and what came next completely surprised me: Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit Select Committee, made a point of starting the meeting with this plea:

"if heaven forbid we end up with no deal, we must between the parties, ring-fence the part of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement (DWA) related to citizens so that the rights of Brits abroad and EU citizens in the UK are protected".

The discussion continued for over an hour around Brexit on a variety of subjects, Hilary Benn then focused on his  original point to conclude the meeting, and said Ring-fencing our rights in the case of no-deal was a moral duty:

"I think for citizens, there is a very specific moral obligation faced up to by all the governments, which is why, in my view, it (the DWA) should be ring-fenced".

Later that day, together with Jane Golding of British in Europe, we chaired our very first fringe meeting, in the presence of Paul Blomfield MP, Seb Dance MEP, Allison Roche of UNISON, Alexandra Bulat of the3million and last but not least Cosi Doerfell-Hill of the wonderful In Limbo team

(This is me with a sign 'He's right' with an arrow pointing toward Seb Dance. Click on the picture to watch a recording of the fringe event on our Facebook page)

As a first, it was quite an experience, and I want to thank Paul, Seb, Allison and Alexandra for being the nicest panel I could have hoped for.

We talked exclusively about citizens' rights and I am delighted that everyone on the panel called for both parties to ring-fence the citizens' rights part of the draft Withdrawal Agreement in the case of no-deal to protect our rights after Brexit. 

You might ask the question: why ring-fencing the Draft Withdrawal Agreement on citizens' rights, since Theresa May gave us a unilateral guarantee last week?

Besides the moral argument, our rights are a complex and indivisible package of national and bilateral rights, which require the implementation of Draft Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU to secure their protection. 

This excellent infographics produced by Europe Street News summarises the loss of rights we would suffer from, with or without a deal:


I asked both Paul Blomfield and Seb Dance whether they thought there would be a majority in their respective Parliaments to vote for ring-fencing and they answered positively, which gave all of us a glimmer of hope.

The case for ring-fencing in the event of no-deal was also made by Sunder Katwala of British Future, and Sampson Low of UNISON in other fringe meetings.

We are seeing a momentum building, which hopefully will grow next week when the3million and British in Europe attend the Conservative Party conference.

We are holding a fringe event on Monday at 4pm with Ben Howlett (former Bath MP and vice chair of Conservative Group for Europe), Charles Tannock MEP, Christian Vinante (Westminster Italian Conservative). Sunder Katwala of British Future and Kelvin Tanner, solicitor at Fragomen. The event is just outside the Conference zone and should you wish to attend, please register on our Event page. We will live stream the meeting on our Facebook page too.

Send a postcard to Theresa May at Conference #DearTheresa
The Conservative Party conference starts this Sunday and we thought it would be nice if Theresa May received hundreds of postcards from EU citizens on Monday and Tuesday, asking her to agree with Michel Barnier to ring-fence the deal on citizens' rights she already negotiated, in the event of no-deal.

The address is on the picture above, with an example of wording but make your own and post it today or tomorrow in a red postbox, as well as on social media with the hashtag #DearTheresa

Some more examples below:

Happy posting!

European regards,


Nicolas Hatton is a founder member of the3million, the EU Citizens' group

the3million is a not for profit organisation formed by EU citizens after the Brexit referendum to protect the lives of EU citizens who made the UK their home. We rely on donations to run the campaign. Please consider becoming a paying supporter today. Start from £2.50 per month.


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In the news

Source: The Independent



Public events about EU citizens and their rights post Brexit

if you are on Facebook, you can watch the recording of the Liverpool information session at

The following events are organised by various organisations. Please check on the links for details. 

29 September 2018 - Brexit and EU citizens' rights
Dundee - Tickets

01 October 2018 - Brexit i prawa obywateli UE
Edinburgh - Tickets

09 October 2018 - Your rights and Brexit
Leicester - Information

11 October 2018 - EU nationals – understand your options post-Brexit
London (N1 Islington) - Tickets

24 October 2018 - EU Citizens' Rights Info Session
Bradford - Tickets
This event is organised by the3million

29 October 2018 - EU Citizens’ Rights and Brexit 
London (W3 Ealing) - Information

If you know about an information event about EU citizens and their rights post Brexit, please reply to this newsletter to let us know and we'll add it to the list. 


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