A new all-party parliamentary group on freedom of movement met on September 13th to discuss how to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK and Brits abroad after Brexit. Diplomatic representatives of several EU countries attended the meeting.
Chris Murray, Research Fellow at the Institute For Public Policy Research (IPPR) reminded that there are currently some 2.5 million of EU citizens employed in the UK. One in 10 of the UK’s registered doctors is an EU national.
Established in Britain thanks to the rights deriving from the EU membership, after the June referendum they face great uncertainty. It is not known which laws will apply once the UK withdraws from the EU. “Already now, people may have difficulties to take up a loan or find a place for children in schools. They may also be reluctant to accept long work contracts because they do not know what will happen in the future,” said Murray. “The referendum has a huge social impact. We have to acknowledge that this situation will affect the main portion of some people’s working lives.”
Murray presented IPPR’s proposals to grant all EU citizens legally resident in the UK automatic “indefinite leave to remain”, or permanent residence. There are however implications for people seeking to naturalise in the UK or another EU country. Germany for example, allows dual nationality to citizens from EU countries, but not to those from outside the EU.
Roger Casale, CEO of New Europeans, an organisation that supports freedom of movement, called for immediate unilateral action from the British government to give permanent residence to EU citizens. “We have pulled the rug from under their feet, we have to put it back again. This will also strengthen the position of British citizens in other EU countries,” he said. “On June 23rd politics entered the life of millions of people in a dramatic way and we do not have the emotional intelligence to understand that.”
Nazek Ramadan, Director of the organisation Migrant Voice, added that besides uncertainty, the EU referendum has generated a spike of hate crimes that needs to be addressed by politicians. “Migrants want clarity about their rights, as well as recognition of their role in the economy and society.”
On the same day, a House of Lords’ European Union committee began an inquiry into the consequences of Brexit for European citizens and companies in the UK.
Read more on this topic:
What Happens to ‘Acquired Rights’ in the Event of a Brexit? Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, UK Constitutional Law Association, 16 May 2016.
Zero chance EU citizens in UK will keep same rights post-Brexit, leading barrister tells Lords panel. Lisa O’Carroll, The Guardian, 13 September 2016.
Text and photos: Claudia Delpero. © All rights reserved.