Angry Andrew Neil SLAMS Portuguese MEP for using EU citizens as Brexit “bargaining chips”

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Paulo Rangel said it was “impossible” to discuss the lives of over three million Europeans living in Britain until Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered, starting Britain’s formal exit process.

European Council president Donald Tusk has blamed the UK electorate for causing “anxiety and uncertainty” for the millions of British and EU citizens living outside their home country by voting for Brexit.

In a to a group of 80 – mainly Conservative – MPs, he argued that EU politicians could not be blamed for the cause of the problems, after they claimed lead Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was “worryingly indifferent to securing reciprocal rights for our and your resident citizens”. 

In the open letter replying to MPs, he wrote: “In your letter you state that the European Commission, and in particular Barnier, are attempting to prevent negotiations, thereby creating ‘anxiety and uncertainty for the UK and EU citizens living in one another’s territories’.

“It is a very interesting argument; the only problem being that it had nothing to do with reality. Would you not agree that the only source of anxiety and uncertainty is rather the decision on Brexit? 

“And that the only way to dispel the fears and doubts of all citizens concerned is the quickest possible start of the negotiations based on article 50 of the treaty?”

Discussing the matter on the ’s Daily Politics, Neil accused Mr Rangel and EU leaders of “playing games” with the lives of those living abroad.

The Portuguese MEP responded: “Well, I don’t think so. Nobody is gaming or playing about this.

“This is very clear. The United Kingdom decided that they wanted to leave the – they know the rules.

“[The] UK is the country of the rule of law, and the rule is they have to trigger Article 50.

“So it is impossible to have negotiations between 27 states without accomplishing all of the rules – it is very easy.”

Neil hit back the Brussels-based politician: “But is it that easy! The point with ’s offer to the German Chancellor, let’s not make these people part of the negotiations, let’s take them off of the table, let’s not make them a bargaining chip, let’s secure their future now.

“What would be wrong with that?”

Mr Rangel replied that it is “totally unacceptable” because the British decided to vote Brexit and leave the EU, he then hinted that Leave voters did not think about EU citizens living overseas when they voted for Brexit.

He continued: “Ministers of the British government said they want to organise lists of European and foreign people that are working in enterprises, or that are studying and teaching in universities.”

The show’s host replied: “No, actually that is a misrepresentation of what was said.

“Let me ask you this, what would be wrong with saying European citizens who already live here and their families will be free to stay for as long as they want?

“What harm would that do?

“For the British government this isn’t an issue, they are happy for these people to stay – why wouldn’t you agree with that?

“There are 175,000 Portuguese nationals living in the UK, many of them here because your country can’t generate the jobs that would give them work in Portugal.

“Why not take away the uncertainty of their future and say, ‘you are welcome to stay here for as long as you want?’”

Deciding to negotiate around Neil’s question the MEP once again called for the UK to follow the “rules” and trigger Article 50, before the future of Europeans living in Britain can be settled by the EU.