British Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis has told European Union citizens living in the UK that the Government is working to reach an agreement for Brexit as quickly as it can.

It is thought that Brexit will affect around four million expats in the UK and the EU and Lewis decided to speak out as many EU citizens held a rally outside the British Parliament to air their concerns about their rights.

‘We know that EU citizens living in the UK want to look to their futures with as much certainty as possible. That is why the UK government is committed to reaching agreement on citizens’ rights as soon as possible through our negotiations with the EU. The Prime Minister has said from the very outset that protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU is a top priority,’ he said.

‘Since the result of the referendum last year, I have personally spoken to many European Union citizens concerned about their future in the UK. These are people who have come to this country and had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the social, economic and cultural fabric of the UK,’ he explained.

‘They bring with them ideas, innovation and skills which our employers and businesses rely on from our universities to our farms to our financial institutions. No-one living here lawfully will be asked to leave when we exit the EU and they will have a period to make an application to remain here. We want them to stay,’ he added.

However, EU citizens feel that their rights are under threat. Frenchman Nicola Hatton, the founder of campaign group 3million who has lived in the UK for 22 years, believes that the goalposts have been moved for those of us who are already living and working in Britain.

‘We came to Britain and made it our home. We paid taxes, we started businesses, we started families. All we want is exactly what we have now. We're not asking for anything new or anything special,’ he said.

The group says that the so called settled status option outlined by the British Government would strip them of equal family reunification rights and the ability to leave the UK and return after two years.

They want their rights guaranteed for life under the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to prevent a future Government rolling back assurances. However Prime Minister Theresa May has made it clear that the ECJ should have no control over the UK after Brexit.

Lewis pointed out that EU citizens living in the UK before the yet to be agreed cut-off date will be treated as if they are UK nationals for education, healthcare, benefits, pensions and social housing.

‘Our objective is that EU citizens living here should be able to continue their lives as before. However, we have also been clear about agreeing a reciprocal deal to protect the more than a million UK nationals living and working in the EU,’ he said.

Representatives from the UK and the EU have been discussing this issue since negotiations officially began in July and Lewis claimed that real progress has been made with both sides agreeing to protect a number of rights, including access to healthcare, the recognition of professional qualifications and the status of workers who live in one EU state but work in another.

‘Both sides are determined to reach an agreement as soon as possible to ease the concerns of both EU citizens and UK nationals. We are confident of making further progress during the next round of negotiations, in two weeks’ time,’ he added.