I have received many messages from people expressing anxieties about their (or a family member’s) status as EU nationals resident in the UK. They have lived here and contributed significantly to our local communities but have been made to feel insecure by the failings of the current government on this issue.
I am very concerned that so many people have been made to feel unsettled as a result of Theresa May’s interpretation of the Referendum result.
The Labour Party put down amendments to the Article 50 bill in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords that would have ensured that EU citizens are protected and these amendments had my full support, however the Government rejected them totally. I am also very disappointed that in the Article 50 letter that was delivered at the end of March Theresa May did not take the opportunity to confirm that the rights of current EU citizens living in the UK would continue after we leave the European Union. This would have given reassurance and certainty to people but it would also have set a positive tone to the negotiations ahead.
Shortly after the triggering of Article 50 we discussed the matter in the European Parliament and MEPs agreed what the priorities and ‘red lines’ should be in the talks. The legal status of citizens was at the top of our concerns and I will be doing all that I can in Brussels to support the rights of citizens.
I will also continue to lobby Westminster politicians. Now that the General Election is over, I have written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd to express my concerns and those of my constituents, some of which are below. It is important that our voices are heard and that the Government is held to account.
"I am writing to tell you that my wife, our daughter and I worry about our rights not being guaranteed following Brexit.
I am a British citizen and my wife is a German citizen. I have lived permanently in Britain all my life. I have been a GP for over 26 years and have worked as a doctor all my adult life since qualifying.
My wife qualified as a doctor in Berlin and, after working as a doctor there, did General Practice training in Newport, Gwent and passed all her professional exams in General Practice in Britain. She worked as a locum GP for 7 years before high stress levels (experienced by all GPs now) forced her to stop this. She now works as a holistic medicine practitioner. She has always paid all her taxes.
We are very worried that no guarantees have been made about my wife's right to remain here following Brexit.
The uncertainty this places on me, my wife and daughter is intolerable and completely unacceptable."
Dr John Pike MB BS, FRCGP, DFSRH of Bristol
"It is high time that the position of actual EU residents in the UK is clarified. Many of us have contributed for years to the UK economy and development. We need our rights clearly defined by the letter of the law. The uncertainty of our futures shouldn't be left to decisions made by bureaucrats in years to come."
Mr K of Looe
"I am a non British EU citizen living in the UK. I moved to England in 1974, got married to a British citizen, have had two sons, with dual citizenship, who both live and work in this country. I have been a French teacher since 1978, have paid taxes ever since and am a law abiding citizen.
I have not asked for permanent residency as I do feel very strongly that I should not have to fill in a 85 page document when there are plenty of official documents like P60, NI details which the Home Office can have access to, my life is transparent."
Ms A of Bristol
"I am a Belgian national who has lived in the UK since 2003. I have been married to my British husband for 11 years, and we both reside and work in the UK. I do worry about my rights, as a European citizen, to live and work in the UK. The uncertainty that Brexit has created is very unsettling and the disdain that the British Government is showing to the concerns of millions of people is disturbing."
Ms P of Malmesbury
"I am writing to you as a French national who has been living and working in England for 32years. My husband is English and we have 2 daughters who are in full employment and two grandchildren.
I am now retired having worked in Adult Education teaching French and German. Now that the negotiations are starting to separate the UK from the EU I am very concerned that my rights as a European citizen will not be guaranteed. The uncertainty about my and my family's future is a constant worry.
Free movement within the EU is primordial not just for continental Europeans but also for British citizens whose freedom will be curtailed. I am thinking in particular about young people, students, scientists, musicians and artists for whom exchange between countries is vital for their and the development in their field.
Let's not forget that a united and therefore peaceful Europe is what was fought for in 2 World Wars."
Ms S of Exmouth
"I write as one of your constituents in the South West region of the UK – a British citizen married to a French wife – who is greatly disturbed by the continuing failure to resolve the issue of EU citizens living here in the UK and vice-versa.
This issue was raised soon after the referendum result was announced last June; since then, however, the UK government has proved obdurate in treating these residents, to use its own insulting terminology, as ‘bargaining chips’ or ‘cards’.
The result has been immense distress to numerous families living for almost a year under the threat of disruption, especially where, for instance, elderly relatives are unlikely to meet residence or employment requirements, or where one member has had to travel abroad to care for a sick family member and has thereby fallen foul of the complex, costly and inequitably applied requirements of the British Home Office for Permanent Residence or full Citizenship.
The issue is one of simple humanity and equity, quite apart from that of economic benefit usually quoted."
Dr H of Bristol