Ahead of a debate today in the European Parliament on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, Labour MEPs have urged the British government to give them peace of mind by upholding their rights to remain in the UK after Brexit. The European Parliament debate takes place at the same time as the House of Lords debates amendments on citizens’ rights in the Brexit bill.
Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s Leader in the European Parliament, said:
“It is really quite shocking that the government has failed to offer guarantees to the three million EU citizens currently resident in the UK, and is using them and the 1.2 million British citizens living in the rest of the European Union as pawns in the Brexit negotiations.
“EU citizens who have been in the UK for years are fearful of what the future may hold for them in the country they have made their home – people who have worked and studied here, contributed to society, contributed to the economy, and started families.
“Were Theresa May to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in Britain, it would not only be the right thing to do, but would almost certainly be reciprocated by other EU countries, giving peace of mind to the many British citizens facing similar circumstances in the rest of the EU.
“The prime minister recently said EU citizens living in the UK make a “vital contribution to our society and economy”, and that without their contribution Britain would be “poorer” and public services “weaker”. She needs to act on these words without delay.”
“In the coming months the LIBE, petitions and employment committees will hold a joint hearing to investigate the cases that have been brought to the European Parliament. It is important that we continue to draw attention to the increasing number of cases from concerned EU citizens and their rights ahead of the Brexit negotiations.
“We will strengthen our calls for guarantees to protect the rights of the close to three million EU citizens in the UK and the one and a half million UK citizens living in other EU countries. We, as MEPs, will equally represent their interests and continue to lead calls to ensure that these people are not penalised for a decision that will affect them, but which many of them had no part in making.”