Some one million British nationals live in other EU member states, while many thousands more work either full-time or part-time in other countries.
And if Theresa May and her Brexit team fail to secure a deal with the Brussels bloc, they could all be left with massive healthcare bills if they fall ill after Britain’s departure from the union.
But the three million EU nationals who live in the UK, however, will still get free access to health services and treatment under Britain’s EU Withdrawal Bill, it has been revealed.
Speaking to the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee in the House of Lords today, Professor Catherine Barnard told politicians that a failure to come to some form of deal with the bloc would “leave Brits abroad in a difficult position”.
The Professor of European Law at Cambridge University said: “The EU withdrawal bill is absolutely essential for providing some sort of safety net in the case of a chaotic Brexit that we leave without any deal at all.
“That is one of its main aims to provide this comfort blanket essentially, to provide protection.”
But she claimed that the trouble with the bill is that it only applies to the UK and “cannot mandate what the French, Germans do”.
Therefore the bill would ensure free healthcare is granted to EU nationals living in the UK, but it cannot force other countries to offer the same rights to British expats.
She explained that a clause included in the EU Withdrawal Bill would mean provisions on healthcare would be converted into UK law.