Lib Dems table Bill to give Europeans the right to stay in the UK

Tom Brake has tabled a Bill to be debated next Tuesday which would give Europeans living here the right to stay in the EU.

This follows on from both the Government and Theresa May refusing to give assurances to people who are living here that they will have an unconditional right to carry on doing so. Theresa May seems determined to use them as a bargaining chip.

This not acceptable to Lib Dems – as Tim Farron said at the demonstration on the EU last Saturday ‘The Liberal Democrats will not stand by while our communities are divided by uncertainty. Regardless of the outcome of any negotiations with Europe around Brexit, EU citizens who have made Britain their home must be allowed to stay.’

This is not just a humanitarian issue – it is damaging to our economy as people faced with uncertainty about whether they can stay in the UK will put off decisions and it is hardly attractive for entrepeeaners to set up businesses here if they cannot be sure they will be allowed to stay.

The Party is also launching a national campaign with a petition and local campaigning materials available from HQ shortly.

This should be an issue which all Lib Dems can unite to campaign on and judging from my own experience one which gets a lot of support – from both Remainers and Brexiters.

Tim Farron puts the case better than anyone:

To Europeans whose lives are now rooted in the UK, my message is simple: the Liberal Democrats stand with you, and will speak for you. To the French family raising their children in Manchester, to the Polish mother working to pay her mortgage in Portsmouth, to the German graduate starting his business venture in Birmingham – the Liberal Democrats value you, we will stand by you, and we will champion your future here in Britain.

* Simon McGrath is a Councillor in the London Borough of Merton.

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This entry was posted in Campaign Corner.
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20 Comments

  • I am very pleased to see this, and now is the time since May’s leadership campaign strategy is not yet Tory policy. I sincerely hope this gathers cross-party support – it’s just basic human decency.

  • Richard Underhill 6th Jul '16 - 8:49am

    Administratively, is it intended to grant a status automatically? depending on the quality of the Home Office’s databases, or on application? which would create a large volume of work for the staff and consequentially slowing other decisions on other applications.

  • @Richard Underhill
    Good point – although I still think the admin burden of processing EU nationals right to stay will be massively less than running a deportation programme.

  • Muhammad Abubakar 6th Jul '16 - 10:36am

    EU citizens living in UK did not ask UK to join EU and never asked to leave it. They entered UK on their own wish but under the believe that UK is their home now and no one from UK told them that they may have to leave one day in future. Why they have to suffer under this uncertainty now? Why they have to lose their home now? Why those who sold everything in their birthplace to make UK their own home, have to wake up with feelings that they have no home, no worth, no hope? This is inhuman, they must be given unconditional right to stay in UK with immediate effect.

  • Tony Dawson 6th Jul '16 - 4:18pm

    The idea that EU citizens here should be traded with UK citizens there is barbaric.

    We should say to the EU:

    “These people who entered UK prior to midnight on 23 June are residents. End of. We expect you to say the same about UK residents.”

    And, frankly, I do not expect any problems. Some people appear to be creating a crisis out of nothing, perhaps to appear to have an easy ‘victory’?

  • Stevan Rose 6th Jul '16 - 6:02pm

    The simple truth is that we can’t deport anyone without doing major damage to the economic fabric of the country. So this promise isn’t conceding anything and would be a sign of goodwill in future negotiations. I can see where May is coming from though, she wants it to be reciprocal. May was a Remainer so I can see her going for full free movement if she can anyway.

  • Muhammad Abubakar 6th Jul '16 - 9:13pm

    @Stevan – I agree we can’t deport anyone but the problem here is that EU citizens are living in anxiety and uncertainty withouth being at fault. In some areas mistreatment and intolerance is growing among the communities. The right thing will be to give guaranted immediately to help the situation.

  • I wouldn’t like to see any EU citizen in the UK now be treated worse than they would have done had we voted to stay in the UK.

    But what people seem be calling for here is for those EU citizens to be treated significantly better than they would have been otherwise. For instance, instead of having to be here for five years to gain permanent resident status (as is the case now), it’s being suggested that everybody who arrived up to June 23rd should immediately be given the same thing. That’s an unrealistic demand.

  • Are the Lib Dems pushing for a parliamentary vote on the referendum? I hear nothing on this. Is this a valid strategy?

  • David Garlick 7th Jul '16 - 9:47am

    In hospital for some test yesterday and was well looked after by a team from around the world including eastern Europe. When the people of Europe wake up to the fact that the time for getting to the UK to stay is the next two years I expect a few more will come?
    I will be happy about that…

  • @Tony Dawson
    We should say to the EU:

    “These people who entered UK prior to midnight on 23 June are residents. End of. We expect you to say the same about UK residents.”

    No we can’t say that as we are currently bound by EU laws which prevent us discriminating against other EU citizens in this way.

    Stuart is on the ball, Tom Brake’s bill is about giving these people more rights than they have at present.

    It is clear from the video Theresa May’s negotiating stance is for there to be no change in the status of UK nationals living in the EU and EU nationals living in the UK prior to the date the UK exits the EU. Leaving it up to the EU to decide if it will accept this sensible proposal. Hence the source of uncertainty isn’t the UK government and candidates such as Theresa May but the EU itself.

  • Oops! Just to clarify my last point:
    “It is clear from the video Theresa May’s negotiating stance is, post exit from the EU, for there to be no change in the status of UK nationals living in the EU and EU nationals living in the UK prior to the date the UK exits the EU.”

  • Matt (Bristol) 7th Jul '16 - 1:15pm

    “But what people seem be calling for here is for those EU citizens to be treated significantly better than they would have been otherwise. For instance, instead of having to be here for five years to gain permanent resident status (as is the case now), it’s being suggested that everybody who arrived up to June 23rd should immediately be given the same thing. That’s an unrealistic demand.”

    I think the current law on permanent residency is a mess, anyway, in the light of EU exit. I think it was in fact hardened up within the last decade and used to be looser.

    But whilst the UK was a EU member, no-one was going to try to extradite an EU-national from a state which had no transitional arrangements re:accession, who had committed no criminal act, were they? So ‘permanent residency’ was a dead-letter.

    So it could be argued that preserving the staus quo ante the referendum requires changing the law that existed before the referendum, because the law did not reflect what was actually happening.

  • Andrew McCaig 7th Jul '16 - 1:56pm

    I think the point about Theresa may’s refusal to give a guarantee is that it sent a very discouraging and frightening message to EU citizens living here..

    The immigration policies for non-EU migrants that she has promoted have done huge damage to British universities and our reputation in the world of overseas students, despite the fact that the vast majority of students go back to their home countries and tend to promote British interests ever after. She does not have a good record on this sort of thing..

  • How does this fit in with the (non-binding) Andy Burnham, Labour motion, which asked the government to “commit today that EU nationals currently living in the UK shall have the right to remain”. And what came first the motion or the tabling of this bill?

  • I think the point about Theresa may’s refusal to give a guaraentee is that it sent a very discouraging and frightening message to EU citizens living here..

    The trouble is that what Tom Brake and Tim Farron are doing is sending a very discouraging and frightening message to UK nationals either living in EU countries or in Gibraltar…

    I think people are forgetting the UK may embark on a set of negotiations with the EU, if it invokes Article 50. Hence we should bear in mind that Theresa is speaking to the EU as well as to the UK audience. So she has confirmed, there will be no change before the exits the EU and has implied there will be no change if the EU does likewise. Commonsense really.

  • jedibeeftrix 7th Jul '16 - 10:24pm

    It is good geo-politics, but very poor domestic politics. We have to live with the results of May’s equivocation after the event.

    I want May to get it, but not before she does a 180:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/07/theresa-may-must-not-be-pm-until-she-rejects-the-policy-of-the-b/

  • Andrew McCaig 7th Jul '16 - 10:54pm

    Roland,

    I don’t agree at all. Taking the obvious practical and humane approach on this question would quickly get reciprocal treatment from other countries. Treating their citizens as bargaining chips is the surest way to make the worst possible start to negotiations with other countries.

    Imagine the howls of anguish and xenophobia from the Daily Mail et al if Spain threatened British citizens in their country in this way?

  • Andrew
    Who of any significance in Europe takes note of what the Daily Mail, a paper written by and for a UK audience, says?

    We need to be thinking more about what the European reaction and press would say on such matters, as that is what will influence the decisions the EU (and it’s individual member states who will vote on any agreement) will have to reach on the status of UK nationals living in the EU and on arrangements for Gibraltar, post-Brexit. Remember with the Article 50 process, the EU controls the negotiations.

    Post-Brexit as the UK will no longer be in the EU, in the absence of an EU agreement, individual members will be free to make their own decisions, at which time Spain could threaten British citizens. At which time I suspect all Tim et al. will do is wring their hands at how upsetting it is, but totally fail to see they missed the opportunity to act and so prevented such a situation arising.

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