Newly released official figures show that nearly a million British expats are currently living in other European Union countries. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has gathered data from across the EU to produce a profile of British Expats.
The ONS’s objective was to find out how many people are caught up in Brexit over their rights to live, work and access free healthcare once the UK has departed from the EU.
The UK government plans to begin the two-year exit process by the end of March 2017, which will see the UK leave the EU by March 2019.
The ONS report states that around 900,000 British expats have lived in another EU country for 12 months or more and that another 49,065 live in the European free trade area (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).
The largest expat age group is between 30 and 49 years old (280,042), with the 50 to 64-year-old age group rating next (247,501).
The European destination most heavily populated by British Expats is Spain, with 308,805 Brits living there and a third of them are aged 65 years or over. Other popular countries for expats are France, Ireland and Germany.
It shows that 20 per cent of British Expats living permanently in the EU are aged 65 or over.
There is a suspicion that the government asked for these official statistics to see how many British expats are affected by Brexit and to determine whether negotiations to secure their rights are worthwhile.
Lobby groups and MPs have argued that the Prime Minister should be showing Brexit goodwill by securing the rights of EU expats in Britain, but she has refused to do so without a similar measure from the EU.
The Prime Minister claims that some EU leaders are reluctant to offer security to expats before the start of Brexit talks.
It is estimated that around 3.2 million EU expats are currently resident in the UK.
Prime Minister Theresa May commented: “I expect and intend and want to be able to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living here in the UK, it is only right that I should consider the rights of UK citizens living elsewhere, in what would be the 27 remaining member states.”
“I remain open to this being an issue that we negotiate at a very early stage in the negotiations. I think there are a good number of other European member states who want that too. Some don’t – but I’m hoping we will be able to do this at an early stage.”