Thank you for contacting me about the status of EU nationals in the UK.
I welcome the Government’s clarity that it wants to protect the status of EU nationals already living and working in the UK after the UK leaves the EU. I have personally expressed my desire (both in correspondence and in the House) to see this issue satisfactorily settled, and the status of EU nationals guaranteed, as soon as possible.
The only circumstances in which that wouldn’t be possible is if British citizens’ rights in other EU Member States were not protected in return. I understand from Ministers that the vast majority of other EU Member States are interested in reaching an early reciprocal arrangement, and I am disappointed to hear that there are just a couple who are holding up this deal which would give comfort to many. I am pleased that the Prime Minister and her team plan to keep working hard on this, and have expressed optimism about reaching agreement.
It goes without saying that EU nationals make an invaluable contribution to our economy, our society and our daily lives. I can assure you that there will be no immediate change in their status in the UK. Many EU citizens who are already resident here will already meet the conditions for settlement in their own right. If you are a constituent who is an EU citizen who is having difficulty with this, I urge you to contact my office (firstname.lastname@example.org) to see if there is assistance we can provide.
The discussions that the Government has with the European Union to agree the arrangements for the UK’s exit will undoubtedly reflect the immense contribution made by EU citizens to our economy, our NHS and our schools, and in so many other ways. However I am clear they must also secure the interests of the 1.2 million British citizens who live and work elsewhere in the EU. While I have sympathy with the suggestion that the UK should unilaterally guarantee the position of EU nationals who are here, I believe it would be irresponsible and unfair of the UK Government – which has a duty to do its best for British citizens everywhere – to proceed without obtaining the same for them.
It is in the best interests of all for this issue to be reconciled as quickly as possible. Until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. There have been some truly abhorrent hate crimes perpetrated against EU nationals in the aftermath of the referendum, and I will not stand for attacks of any kind. They must be, and will be, tackled in the strongest possible terms.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.