Reaction - "Is this what Mr Boris Johnson means by a "do or die" exit?

Statement from Brexpats Hear Our Voice 

In response to the UK Government’s Guidance Note on Healthcare after Brexit: living in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland


"Is this what Mr Boris Johnson means by a “do or die" exit?


Some words that spring to mind about yet another ‘No Deal” announcement.


Cruel, inhumane, unjust, negligent, degrading, incompetent, retrograde…….


British citizens, wherever they live are just that, British citizens. This ‘Notice’ from ‘our’ government, shows once again that the race to the bottom on rights has begun. 


We as a group are diverse, open and welcoming. We are willing to engage on any matter in a fair and tolerant way regarding Brexit and our rights, however this announcement crosses a line, it really makes us angry because it concerns multiple discrimination, heartlessly targeting the most vulnerable in our community, our older adults, the sick and the poorest. 


It is deplorable that our government should put out such an announcement, just 38 days before, in the words of the Prime Minister, a "do or die" exit on 31 October. It is bound to cause confusion and add considerably to people's anxiety. To package this announcement as a reassurance for its citizens in the EU is grossly disingenuous when it is nothing short of a dereliction of duty to its own citizens. This is abandonment of a commitment at very short notice, which may cost lives. The grim reality is that for some healthcare will be unaffordable or unobtainable, and even returning to the UK not a realistic option.

To assume that it is easy and cheap for someone to change systems for healthcare access, in any one of 27 different countries, demonstrates ignorance, even willful neglect. 


To give one example, J. one of our members, who lives in France, is a full-time carer for her elderly mother who is in poor health, suffering vascular dementia and going down hill. As an S1 holder who arrived in France as a pensioner, her mother is not eligible to apply to the state system. J. says they cannot afford private health insurance so the only option would be to return to the UK. But who would look after her? J's husband works in France and they have a son at school there. This is cruelty beyond belief.


Our government has back-pedaled on every promise made to us. To toss us aside, ignore us, and leave us unprotected, to meddle with the most basic of our human rights, is inhumane and cruel. Living with uncertainty for well over three years, and now this new twist in the never-ending Brexit saga, may well push some people to the limit, and literally be the death of them. 

We would ask all British voters to support us in demanding that rights are ring-fenced, thereby fully protected, and not left to this deplorable political bartering. Otherwise, who knows who will be targeted next?


Debbie Williams

On behalf of Brexpats - Hear our Voice



Read an opinion on ‘Rights” by Debbie Williams


Prior to the EU Referendum in the UK in June 2016, the Leave Campaign unequivocally stated that the legally exercised treaty rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU, (together #The5Million people), would not change, they would be protected. These statements were misleading and untruthful. What those inaccuracies highlighted were that many people, including high-ranking officials across government, did not, and still do not, understand what ‘Rights” actually mean, nor do they understand the legal treaties that underpin these rights.

Citizens' Rights are our rights: they are our civil, political and social rights and they sit side by side with our human rights. These rights have developed over time, to enable social inclusion and social citizenship, making for an inclusive and democratic society.

Historically, human beings have fought and died for these rights. From LGBTQ+ to racial equality, to Universal Suffrage, naming but a few. However, there are still many countries in the 21st century without some or all of these rights, one example being the Territory of Hong Kong, as we can see right now. The people are protesting about many inequalities but, above all, the key issue is Universal Suffrage.

We, #The5Million, now find ourselves in a precarious position, where we will have lesser rights than before if, and I say if... the UK leaves the EU. Our voting rights have already been compromised. A large percentage of, #The5Million, were not allowed to vote in the referendum, we were disenfranchised in a vote that directly affected our lives, livelihoods, homes and families. This was inflicted on us by an intended advisory referendum; short on facts, impact studies and plans, and that is still the case over three years later.

What is now patently obvious is that we are in a situation of divergence and inequality.

The UK has a population of approximately 65 million people; from that figure, 17.4 million voted to leave, in other words, 17.4 million voted to remove rights from #The5Million, themselves and, importantly, the UK population as a whole. There should be an outcry, an outpouring of defiance, but unfortunately it appears that this is either too complex an issue or apathy is prevailing.

The Remain movement and the Citizens' Rights groups all understand the implications and what is at stake, especially Freedom of Movement (FoM). FoM is not travelling or going on holiday. It is a life changer, two-way (not just into the UK) and an entrance to a much bigger job market. Those of us who have had the opportunity to use it know that it's not just for the privileged; it is for everybody, from all backgrounds and walks of life.

We, the British in Europe, are best placed to tell you about it: we are 80% working age or younger, no longer the stereotypical ‘expats’, we are immigrants. Times have changed, we have moved on, we know the benefits of immigration first hand, how it creates diversity, openness and opportunity. Of all the EU countries the UK has the largest diaspora, there are 4.9 million of us living across the world. We are flexible and fluid, some of us don’t always stay away permanently, Freedom of Movement allows us all to ‘come and go”, to go where the work is.

History shows us that rights should be treasured and protected. Citizens of a country should never be placed in a position whereby they remove rights from their fellow citizens, or anybody else for that matter.

I call for Article 50 to be revoked now, followed by a government-funded educational campaign, informing people on how "rights work”. Then we may rediscover tolerance and common ground that is sorely needed in this debate, putting people before politics where they should always have been, at the forefront of any political dialogue.

The values that unite human beings are: “Human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy and the rule of law’. Removing rights from people without their consent is undemocratic, it diverges from all the values mentioned and the opposite effect happens, inequality.

We need to trust in each other again, we need to restore trust in our democratic process. And then maybe, just maybe, we can work together on equality, justice and fair play for all, giving balance and restoring hope again.

In friendship and solidarity, come and support #The5Million at “Rally for our Rights,” on Saturday 12th October 2019 in London.

Many people maybe wondering whether there is any point attending Brexit related demonstrations. They may feel it is all over bar the shouting. Not true. For two reasons: whichever way the Brexit decision goes, it is just the start of more negotiations and in addition, important universal rights issues are at stake that transcend Brexit.

Debbie Williams

Founder Brexpats – Hear our Voice

Castellon Province, Spain

23rd August 2019

Also published, with thanks, in The Connexion

History shows us that rights should be treasured and protected. Citizens of a country should never be placed in a position whereby they remove rights from their fellow citizens, or anybody else for that matter. I call for Article 50 to be revoked now, followed by a government-funded educational campaign, informing people on how "rights work”.


British Nationals in EU Left Hanging Again

We fully endorse British in Europe and the3million’s demand today for “an immediate end to the crippling legal uncertainty in the wake of an agreed extension to... ...31 October 2019”. Business aside, there needs to be more awareness of how this affects people. Every week has been bringing us new worries since our lives were turned upside down, astonishingly close to three years ago. This week of no deal?, short extension?, long extension?... has been one of the worst. How much more of hanging over the abyss, living with uncertainty do they think people can take? We will not forget the significant number of Conservative MPs who were prepared for 5 million “displaced” people, that is EUinUK and UKinEU citizens, to have their rights flung out from the protection of international treaties. There is no definitive consensus to ring-fence rights, in spite of all the right noises being made and the support for the Costa Amendment. No deal would send us into free fall with 28+ different parachutes, none of which are made to exactly the same specification. Each member state has its own “no deal” legislation. Importantly, governments of the day or future governments can alter this legislation. In the UK, it is a matter of secondary legislation, amendable without consultation. So please stop telling our EU counterparts, and us, that “everything will be fine”…

This is a quote taken from BHOV’s response with regards to a further extension of Article 50.

You can read our response in full here:


More BHOV documents can be found on the ‘Our Documents’ page:

That's Democracy

Against the noise of the ‘will of the people’ we need to be heard too. Many of us had no say in the 2016 referendum but we exercise our right to do so now by expressing what democracy means to us.

We put the question of ‘what is democracy?’ to our members. Here are their answers. Real people speaking about the subject of democracy.

Dear Europe

As we reached 1000 days on from the June 2016 referendum result, we asked our members if they would like to write an open letter to Europe. These letters contain their thoughts and feelings, both on Europe and on living there.

Here are a selection of the letters received:

European Citizens Prize 2017


In June 2017, we were delighted and honoured to be awarded the European Citizen's Prize 2017.

Thank you to Jean Lambert MEP for the nomination and to the EU for the recognition.

And of course to everybody who has contributed to Brexpats HOV and has helped us secure this award.

The Campaign For Europe blog provides additional information about this award. This can be accessed here.


The Medal was awarded to Debbie Williams by Eduard Slootweg on behalf of the European Parliament. There were 20 attendees from BHOV.


Dutch MEP Eduard Slootweg congratulated Debbie and the Group as he presented the medal.



The outstanding group of people who have worked together so hard to achieve this, and the two younger members who gave their testimonies.



BHOV were nominated for the award by Jean Lambert. Sadly she was unable to attend, so the video below is her message for the ceremony.