Priti Patel says UK citizens living in the EU five years after Brexit vote are being denied their rights

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Priti Patel today claimed that British citizens living in the EU were being denied jobs and healthcare, five years after the UK voted on Brexit.

The interior minister said some expatriates were subject to exaggerated border controls.

She said others faced short windows to submit residency applications and paperwork issues.

Today she called for UK citizens living in EU countries to be treated ‘fairly’, as ‘the UK has done for EU citizens’.

Speaking to the Telegraph on the day Britain marked five years since it voted to leave the EU, Ms Patel said: ‘We are aware that some UK nationals in the EU have been unsettled at boarding and entering the EU…

‘…And there have been a number of reported cases of UK nationals in the EU being asked for residence documents which they do not need to hold, being prevented from accessing benefits and services and had problems with their right to work.

The Home Secretary (pictured) has taken aim at European countries which she says are making life difficult for individual expats with over-the-top border checks and paperwork problems

Boris Johnson says leaving the EU will help us bounce back from the Covid pandemic

Brexit will help us bounce back from the pandemic, Boris Johnson promised in a statement on the fifth anniversary of our vote to leave the EU.

The Prime Minister pledged to ‘seize the true potential of our newfound sovereignty’ to ‘unite and level’ the UK.

In the referendum, 52% of voters voted to leave, prompting the resignation of pro-remain Prime Minister David Cameron.

The ensuing feuds brought down his successor, Theresa May.

But Mr Johnson’s offer of a ‘cookie-cutter’ deal helped him secure an 80-seat majority in the 2019 election.

Marking the occasion which began his journey to No 10, he said: “Five years ago the British people took the momentous decision to leave the European Union and take back control of our destiny.”

“We have already got our money, our laws, our borders and our waters back.

“We installed a new points-based system for immigration, delivered the fastest vaccine deployment anywhere in Europe, negotiated trade agreements with the EU and 68 other countries – including our first free trade agreement post-Brexit with Australia – and we’ve just started negotiations to join the £9trillion Pacific Trade Area.

“Now, as we recover from this pandemic, we will seize the true potential of our newfound sovereignty to unite and level all of our United Kingdom.

“With the control of our regulations and subsidies… we will stimulate innovation, jobs and renewal in all regions of our country.

“The decision to leave the EU may now be part of our history, but our clear mission is to use the freedoms it brings to shape a better future for our people.”

Not everyone marked the anniversary with such warm words.

Leading pro-EU Tory Lord Heseltine has claimed the outlook for Britain is “ominous” with the Northern Ireland peace process in real jeopardy.

“As we try to recover from the worst financial crisis in 300 years, the reality of Brexit is starting to hit us,” he said.

“It is right for the EU to uphold its citizens’ rights obligations, just as the UK has done for EU citizens in the UK.”

It comes after reports last month revealed how Britons in Europe are being denied access to bank accounts, jobs, healthcare and university places due to post-Brexit bureaucracy – even though the access to these services is guaranteed by the withdrawal agreement.

Residents of Spain, Italy and France say they are being hit by new rules that are poorly understood by local elected officials who now ask them to produce documents that are difficult or impossible to obtain.

An expat living in Spain who spoke to MailOnline said people applying for new TIE residence cards have to wait seven months to get one. While stuck in the queue, they are told that application forms can be used instead of the card itself.

But in one case, a bank refused to let a newly arrived Briton open an account using the application form – meaning he couldn’t get a phone contract or rent a property.

The delay lasted about a month before he could open an account with another bank.

The source added that many Britons also face problems at the UK border when trying to leave for Spain, as British guards do not recognize new residency applications and refuse to accept them as proof.

Earlier this year, a group of Spanish officials at Alicante airport dismissed 40 British expats and sent them home over the same problem.

The Britons had boarded a flight in Manchester – which is allowed under Covid rules that allow people to travel to their country of residence – on March 29 in the hope of being allowed to enter Spain in using their application documents.

But when they arrived, officials at the Spanish border told them the claims didn’t count and sent them home on the same plane they had arrived on.

Passengers said “obstructive” border guards flanked by armed police insisted only the card itself was valid for entry.

The concern of expats in EU countries is not new and was the subject of a protest in Malaga in 2019.

Britons living in the Spanish city took to the streets that year, saying they had been ‘forgotten’ during Brexit as they feared losing access to services such as healthcare.

Spain is home to approximately 300,000 British citizens.

Meanwhile, Ms Patel, in her interview with the Telegraph, spoke about the UK’s own EU settlement scheme, which allows EU citizens living in the UK to apply to stay in the wake of Brexit.

Around 5.6 million EU citizens have already applied for a right of residence since its launch two years ago, and around 95% have been granted the right of residence.

The concern of expats in EU countries is not new and was the subject of a protest in Malaga in 2019 (pictured)

The concern of expats in EU countries is not new and was the subject of a protest in Malaga in 2019 (pictured)

However, the deadline for the program is fast approaching, with applications due by June 30.

In her interview with the Telegraph, she said: ‘The UK’s approach is very generous.

“Our EU settlement program has been open for over two years. Many EU countries have an application window of 12 months or less; France’s has currently been open for less than nine months.

She also urged EU citizens wishing to apply to stay in the UK to apply for the scheme within seven days.

However, she promised a “compassionate and proportionate” approach for those who missed the deadline due to a “reasonable” explanation.

It comes as Boris Johnson promised ‘Brexit will help us bounce back from the pandemic’ in a statement to mark the fifth anniversary of our vote to leave the EU.

The Prime Minister pledged to ‘seize the true potential of our newfound sovereignty’ to ‘unite and level’ the UK.

In the referendum, 52% of voters voted to leave, prompting the resignation of pro-remain Prime Minister David Cameron.

The ensuing feuds brought down his successor, Theresa May.

Brexit will help us bounce back from the pandemic, Boris Johnson promised in a statement on the fifth anniversary of our vote to leave the EU

Brexit will help us bounce back from the pandemic, Boris Johnson promised in a statement on the fifth anniversary of our vote to leave the EU

The referendum saw 52% vote to leave, prompting the resignation of the prime minister who backs the rest, David Cameron.

The referendum saw 52% vote to leave, prompting the resignation of the prime minister who backs the rest, David Cameron.

But Mr Johnson’s offer of a ‘cookie-cutter’ deal helped him secure an 80-seat majority in the 2019 election.

Marking the occasion which began his journey to No 10, he said: “Five years ago the British people took the momentous decision to leave the European Union and take back control of our destiny.”

“We have already got our money, our laws, our borders and our waters back.

“We installed a new points-based system for immigration, delivered the fastest vaccine deployment anywhere in Europe, negotiated trade agreements with the EU and 68 other countries – including our first free trade agreement post-Brexit with Australia – and we’ve just started negotiations to join the £9trillion Pacific Trade Area.

“Now, as we recover from this pandemic, we will seize the true potential of our newfound sovereignty to unite and level all of our United Kingdom.

“With the control of our regulations and subsidies… we will stimulate innovation, jobs and renewal in all regions of our country.

“The decision to leave the EU may now be part of our history, but our clear mission is to use the freedoms it brings to shape a better future for our people.”

Not everyone marked the anniversary with such warm words.

Leading pro-EU Tory Lord Heseltine has claimed the outlook for Britain is “ominous” with the Northern Ireland peace process in real jeopardy.

“As we try to recover from the worst financial crisis in 300 years, the reality of Brexit is starting to hit us,” he said.

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