Friday, March 03, 2017

Letters from my Postbag - 2

Another issue generating much interest among constituents at the moment is the absence of guaranteed rights for EU citizens, currently legally resident in the UK, to remain after we have left the European Union. Huge publicity about this issue today, following the defeat of the Government in the House of Lords yesterday over this issue. Causing much pain and uncertainty - and all totally unnecessary. It causes me a mixture of anger and sadness. It's a row over nothing.
Because my view is that there is not the remotest possibility that a British Govt will insist non British citizens legally in the UK, will be asked to leave post-Brexit, I did think that it would have been sensible to gaurentee the future of these immigrants on June 24th. But equally, I do not think the Government's position on this issue, taking a different view from that which I held immediately after the referendum is at all unreasonable. Let's look at the issue factually.
When the people of the UK voted to leave the EU, a key inflencial factor for many was that in future, the UK would decide its own immigration policy. The long term status of EU migrants resident in the UK, automatically became as issue. The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, took the position that she was keen to gaurentee the residency rights of EU citizens in the UK quickly, and sought an early agreement which included the rights of British citizens, legally resident in other EU countries. Regrettably, our EU partners refused to even discuss the issue, until Article 50 has been invoked (still expected to be before end of March). Strangely, the finger of blame in the emails I'm receiving seems to be pointed at the British Government, rather that in the direction of those who are causing the problem! It's the Commission and 'a small number of EU members' are blocking discussion on a deal.
Inevitably, the huge focus being put on this issue by those who want to frustrate the exit of the UK from the EU is causing anxiety and fear amongst EU residents in Britain. Some may be considering going home, causing damage to our economy and our public services. Ironically, those making a major issue of the position of non British residents, are causing more uncertainty and more distress. While other EU states refuse even to discuss this issue before Article 50 is invoked, there can be no resolution. I hope it can be resolved quickly afterwards and we can all agree permanent residency for all EU migrants currently in all other EU countries - as long as they are there legally of course. 

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