When Will May Let Us Know We Can Stay?
With Theresa May’s 12-point Brexit speech and White Paper now behind us, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (or Brexit Bill) reaches its final stage in the House of Commons later today. The moment of reckoning draws ever closer.
And still, EU nationals residing in the UK have been left in the dark regarding whether or not they will be able to legally remain in the country after the UK officially leaves the bloc.
This is despite the best efforts of Immigration lawyers and EU migrant lobby groups such as ‘1 Day Without Us’ and ‘The3million’ putting considerable weight on the government to solidify the rights of EU migrants living in Britain, many of whom have been here for decades.
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Whilst debating the Brexit Bill yesterday, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn stepped up his demand in the Commons yesterday that Theresa May, “unilaterally guarantee the right of EU citizens to remain in the UK following Brexit, in the name of “Human Rights, democracy and decency”. He lambasted Mrs May for choosing to wait until formal negotiations with the bloc began, or other EU states guaranteed the rights of British nationals living and working in their countries.
According to a report in the Huffington Post, Labour, SNP and Lib Dem MPs hope to force the government to guarantee that EU citizens living in Britain at the time of the referendum can stay.
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme yesterday that she had people coming to her surgery “in tears”.
“I had a meeting of 200 French nationals, not from my constituency, saying they are extremely concerned about their future. They have fallen in love with this country, they have fallen in love with someone from this country, they are setting up businesses here, they have put their life down here,” she said.
“They’ve got to have their life on hold for a number of years while Theresa May sorts it out.”
The Prime Minister’s Response
Mrs May seemed determined to shift the focus onto some of the 27 EU member states who are reluctant to discuss the status of British nationals residing in their countries until Article 50 is triggered.
She did however decline to name which countries were refusing to guarantee the rights of British nationals.
“It is absolutely right that we value the contribution that EU citizens are playing here in the UK, their contribution not our community, our economy, our society and to our public services”, Mrs May told the House of Commons.
EU nationals still being used as pawns
Despite the pretty words, it is clear the British government has no intention of relinquishing what it sees as its greatest bargaining chip, EU nationals. However, the motives of the EU countries who refuse to guarantee the rights of British nationals is also perplexing. Unlike the UK, it is arguable that the EU is in a far stronger negotiating position that Britain and does not necessarily need the threat of denying British Citizens certain rights in their country to gain a more favourable Brexit deal.
If this is an indication of the tone of future Brexit negotiations, then it does not bode well. The last thing EU and British nationals living abroad need is to be subject to tit-for-tat negotiation tactics. This type of relationship breakdown will also cause further uncertainty in the business community on both sides of the English Channel, further undermining the chances of a smooth, win/win transition.
The importance of obtaining an EU permanent residence Card and/or British Citizenship cannot be emphasised enough by the best Immigration solicitors and other professional advisors. By engaging with an experienced Immigration lawyer to ensure you submit the best application, you may have a stronger chance of not having it rejected, causing further delays and stress due to the need to appeal the decision or submit a fresh application.
Whilst the government is currently unwilling to guarantee the rights of EU nationals residing in the UK, it is prudent for those people to take matters into their own hands. Cementing the right to remain in the UK as soon as possible will allow you to take control of this increasingly disorderly situation.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected Immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. We can assist you in applying for a permanent residence Card and/or British Citizenship and answer any question you may have on your right to remain in the UK following Brexit.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.