Donald Tusk refuses even to engage on the reciprocal rights of UK and EU citizens, let alone guarantee them

Donald Tusk refuses even to engage on the reciprocal rights of UK and EU citizens, let alone guarantee them

European Council President Donald Tusk has stunned Westminster this evening with an intransigent response to a proposal to end the uncertainty surrounding the status of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU.

On Monday, a cross-party group of 80 MPs wrote to Tusk, calling for the issue to be settled at December’s European Council meeting. The letter, organised by Michael Tomlinson MP, Deputy Chairman of the European Research Group (pictured above, with Tusk), said that people should not be used as “bargaining chips” and called for the matter to be resolved at the European Council in order to end the “anxiety and uncertainty” facing EU citizens living in the UK.

Around 3.3 million EU nationals are understood to be living in Britain, while around 1.2 million Britons live across the other 27 EU member states.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated earlier today that the European Union would not be prepared to compromise on its position of “no negotiation without notification”, which prompted an angry response from Tomlinson, who said:

“Angela Merkel has quit the moral high ground on reciprocal rights and entered the fray with the implication that human beings will be traded “tit for tat” in a political playground.”

Now Tusk himself has issued a stern reply to Tomlinson’s letter. He accuses the British people of being the “only source of anxiety and uncertainty” for their decision to vote for Brexit, and insists that “the only way to dispel the fears and doubts of all the citizens concerned” was for the UK to start the negotiations by triggering Article 50 immediately.

Tusk’s remarks were greeted with incredulity by campaigners and MPs who had signed the letter.

Matthew Elliott, Editor-at-Large of BrexitCentral and formerly Chief Executive of the Vote Leave campaign, said:

“Donald Tusk’s refusal to address an issue of such immediate importance to so many people is deeply disappointing. Throughout the Vote Leave campaign, we were crystal clear that the rights of all EU citizens already legally resident in the UK should be protected. By refusing to even discuss the matter, the EU elite simply reveals itself once again as being more interested in enforcing petty doctrines than in the fundamental human concerns of its citizens.”

Steve Baker MP, Chairman of the European Research Group, also condemned Tusk’s attitude:

“Donald Tusk and Angela Merkel are evidently determined to place dogmatic servitude to EU processes before the wellbeing of EU citizens. This dispiriting intransigence will be seen as yet further evidence the EU is run by an elite disconnected from the real concerns of voters.”

Former Cabinet Minister, Iain Duncan Smith also weighed in:

“EU politicians should stop playing politics with people’s lives. They should agree to end the speculation and take away the anxiety people feel about their futures. The EU yet again puts systems above people.”