Latest in a series of letters from High Commissioner Stephen Lillie to UK nationals living in Cyprus about the UK´s departure from the EU
Over the last few months my team and I at the British High Commission have had the pleasure to meet many of the British citizens who have made Cyprus their home. We spoke to hundreds of you at Brexit-specific meetings we organised in Oroklini, Paralimni, Limassol, Paphos, Peyia and Nicosia and we continue to hear from you through different channels.
Things have moved on since then, and I know many of you are concerned about what the future holds.
As you will know, on 16 January the UK Parliament rejected the Withdrawal Agreement because of their concerns about the Irish Border ‘backstop’. A majority of MPs have said that they will support a deal with changes to the backstop. The Prime Minister is taking this mandate forward and seeking to agree legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, while guaranteeing no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
The Government recognises that these discussions will not be easy but both sides recognise that a No Deal outcome is in neither of our interests. The Prime Minister has promised to update the House of Commons again on 26 February and, if she has not got a new deal by then, to give Parliament a say on the next steps in non-binding votes.
The UK Government is working hard to conclude a deal with the European Union: this is our absolute priority. The Withdrawal Agreement provides citizens with the certainty you need about your rights and means Britons in Cyprus can continue living their lives broadly as you do now.
The Cypriot Government’s comprehensive guide on residency under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement is available on our Living in Cyprus Guide. In addition you may find it helpful to refer to our previous Brexit columns in the Cyprus Mail, which addressed a range of various Brexit issues.
At the same time, as a responsible government we continue with No Deal contingency planning. I have been confident for some time that the Cyprus government will take the necessary steps to ensure that, even in a No Deal, Britons can continue to live in Cyprus on the same broad basis as now. I was therefore pleased to be able to welcome Foreign Minister Christodoulides’ public confirmation on 13 February that the rights of UK nationals in Cyprus will be protected even in the case of a No Deal Brexit.
In practical terms, what this means for British nationals in Cyprus is – as we have always said – you need to regularise your status in Cyprus by applying for either an MEU1 or MEU3. We know that many of you have already done this. But it is important to remind anyone who has not yet formalised their status to do so now.
I remain confident that with your residency papers in order you will be able to continue to enjoy the same rights and privileges that you enjoy now. We are working with the Cypriot authorities on the practical arrangements of this announcement, including on any deadlines for getting an MEU1, and will keep Britons in Cyprus updated.
How to Stay Updated
Although the Government does not wish or expect to leave the EU without a deal, we are taking steps to ensure that people and businesses are prepared the possibility of a No Deal exit.
There is detailed information available at gov.uk/euexit. We have also published further information on citizens’ rights in a No Deal which details the support and assistance that the UK Government will make available to UK nationals in the EU in a No Deal scenario.
At the High Commission, we continue to receive inquiries on many different aspects of Brexit. Some of the answers to these you may find by visiting gov.uk/euexit or by referring to my previous columns in the Cyprus Mail.
I am also pleased to announce that we will host a “Facebook Live Q&A” on 27 February (further details will be published in due course). This will be your chance to raise the most burning issues affecting you. If you have pressing questions that you need to ask us before then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will do our best to provide a timely response.
Stephen Lillie, British High Commissioner