"What will become of the Children of Europe?"

24 July 2017

This letter, addressed to Donald Tusk (President of the European Council), was sent to us by Gill - a UK national currently residing in France.

"Dear Mr Tusk,

We are writing to you to ask for your help and protection for us and other Europeans in the upcoming Brexit negotiations, as we have absolutely no confidence in the present British government to represent our interests.

Our story, though anecdotal, must be fairly representative of many other European families.

For we ARE Europeans, even if we have British nationality.

We came to France in 1987 and our three children were born here; we celebrated our 30 years as Europeans this May, as (except for a short spell from 2002 to 2004) we have lived and worked in mainland Europe for all that time . We have constructed our life here and are at home here in the house we built as a family, with our own hands.

We are very concerned about what Brexit implies for my husband and me (our one hope: we retire soon and hope to apply for French nationality... by no means guaranteed to be successful), but what breaks my heart is the situation of our three children, now young adults.

Like many young Europeans, they went to study in the UK (two of them even with French government grants, and Bourses de Mérit), one even did an Erasmus year in Italy. They then found work in London, fully intending to return home to France one day. They are mutlilingual, engaged Europeans who could only be regarded as a shining beacon of the success of the European project. All three rang home in tears on the morning of the Referendum result.

The bitter irony for them, is that because, in true European spirit, we decided to take them to Germany for three years (to widen their horizons and learn another language) when they were children, they did not fulfil the 5 year French residency requirement to claim French nationality by “Droit de Sol” when they were 18. So they still only have British Nationality. At the time, this was only an “academic” problem, as we were all, even with British passports, still Europeans. Now the problem is concrete and serious.

Basically all three have a French/ European soul trapped inside a British passport.  Will they need travel permits to return to what is essentially their homeland? Will they be able to return home to work? Are they now marooned in post Brexit UK? (awful thought!)

Dear Mr Tusk, please do your best for us and others in our situation, both here in Europe and in the UK. We are horrified by the lies told before, during and after the Leave campaign, and by the reckless, selfishness of the British Prime Minister and her “Band of Three”, as are many other British people.

I would also like to apologize for their insolent arrogance towards the European Union. They only represent a small minority of the British. They certainly represent no-one in our family.

We are very anxious about the future. I never thought I would see this day."

Do you think the North East needs its own voice in the EU exit negotiations?

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