Mayor urges Government to allow Londoners to retain EU citizenship

18 February 2020
  • Sadiq heads to Brussels for top-level meetings with Guy Verhofstadt MEP, Michel Barnier and David Sassoli MEP


  • ‘Associate Citizenship’ should be at heart of negotiations about the UK’s future relationship with EU, says Mayor


  • Mayor wants Londoners and UK nationals to keep rights they had as EU citizens, if they wish


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will today urge the Government to allow Londoners and British nationals who are ‘heartbroken’ by Brexit to retain citizenship of the European Union.


Heading to Brussels today, Sadiq will call on senior European Union (EU) politicians to work with the UK Government so that a form of ‘Associate Citizenship’ is put at the heart of negotiations about the UK’s future relationship with the EU.


The Mayor is deeply concerned that millions of Londoners and other British nationals, who never wanted Brexit, have lost the rights they enjoyed as EU citizens.


As the end of the Brexit transition period draws nearer, the major loss in rights and ability to live and work freely in Europe is likely to be felt more keenly by pro-EU Londoners and Britons, which is why the Mayor feels it is so important that ‘Associate Citizenship’ is once again put on the negotiating agenda.


The idea of ‘Associate Citizenship’ of the EU has been championed by Guy Verhofstadt MEP, who was until recently chair of the European parliament’s Brexit steering group. The New European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has also said the EU is open to exploring the idea as part of wider negotiations with the UK. 


Meeting Mr Verhofstadt today, the Mayor will express his profound regret that Brexit has taken place and ask Mr Verhofstadt to continue to support an arrangement to ensure that individual Londoners, alongside other UK citizens, can retain close links to the EU, if they so wish.


‘Associate Citizenship’ would give those British nationals who wanted it a way to keep many of the same rights they have enjoyed up until now as EU Citizens, most importantly, the right to move and work freely between different EU member states.


The Mayor is in Brussels today for a series of high-level meetings with senior European politicians. Following his talks with Guy Verhofstadt, the Mayor will meet Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, and David Sassoli MEP, President of the European Parliament, as he continues to fight for a Brexit deal that protects the rights of European Londoners and retains the closest alignment with the EU, which is in the best interests of London’s economy.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Like so many Londoners, I am heartbroken that we are no longer a member of the European Union, but that doesn’t mean our country’s future can’t be closely linked with the rest of Europe.


“The Prime Minister says his job is to bring the country together and move us forward and I cannot think of a better way of reconciling the differences between British voters who wanted to leave, and the millions of Londoners and British nationals who still feel and want to be European.


“There would be support from millions of Londoners and British nationals who are devastated they are losing their rights as EU Citizens. As the UK and EU start their next phase of negotiations, I want this issue of associate citizenship to be at the heart of talks about our future relationship.”


Guy Verhofstadt MEP said: The Maastricht Treaty created the concept of 'European Citizenship' and I am in favour of using this now as a basis for people who want to keep their link with Europe. It is the first time in the history of our union that a member state leaves, but it is not because the UK government wanted exit that individual citizens have to lose their connection with the continent.”


The Mayor will also meet with Frans Timmermans, Vice President of the European Commission.

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