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Limbo for EU Citizens

A worrying parliamentary report has highlighted the fact that EU citizens living in the UK could be stripped of their freedom of movement rights by Home Office legislation that was introduced to regulate immigration. The study by the joint committee on human rights (JCHR) has noted that the rights of more than three million Europeans who are currently residing in Britain would be left in a legal “limbo” should the UK leave the European Union without a deal. Indeed it isn't just their freedom of movement rights that are potentially at risk, the report also highlights that the housing and social security rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK would also be affected in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The worrying news comes as Britain still struggles to find a way to negotiate the current impasse that is preventing a clean exit from the European Union. Though the government has already put forward a scheme to allow EU citizens to settle in the UK, it now appears that this could be ignored in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

One of the biggest concerns that comes from the potential of a no-deal Brexit is the idea that EU citizens who have moved to the UK over the years would lose their rights to remain in the country that many of them had made home in. Of course over the previous three years the government has given no indication that this would be the case, and has consistently confirmed that EU citizens who reside in the UK would be able to continue to do so. This report highlights the potential problems that a no-deal Brexit could bring to those who are currently residing in the UK but came from the European Union.

Human Chess Pieces

One of the major criticisms of the British government’s handling of Brexit has been the idea that somehow European Union citizens have been used as bargaining chips to ensure Britain gets a good exit deal from the European Union. It is estimated that three million EU citizens are currently living in the UK and if the report is correct, all of their rights to remain in the UK are at risk. It certainly appears that perhaps the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK may be a bargaining chip after all.

This new problem highlights just another of the many problems that could come from a no-deal Brexit. While clearly there are large elements of those who agree that a no-deal Brexit is the way forward, for the economy and immigration a no-deal Brexit would be the worst possible outcome.

Travel Arrangements

Another of the major issues highlighted by the report is that the rights of those who live here are covered European Union rights. Many of these people come from countries that do not have separate agreements with the UK on travel. It is a lack of alternative arrangements that mean that many of these citizens legal rights will be removed after a no-deal Brexit with little mechanism put in place to avoid this happening.

Will we are a long way from talking about forced evictions and deportations, we are potentially talking about a future in which three million citizens who currently reside in the UK will have no legal right to be able to continue to do so. To many people this is a horrifying statistic and a clear signal of the failure of the British government to deal with the issue of Brexit in a satisfactory manner. The rights of three million potential taxpayers currently living in the UK is clearly not enough to push the government into serious action to try and prevent their legal rights from being removed.

While it is highly likely that a new system will be put into place, or in the case of the EU Settlement Scheme, being brought into force. The fact that three years down the line European Union citizens cannot still guarantee that they will have the right to remain in the country is worrying to say the least. Of course much of what has gone before has been political posturing, but we are clearly talking about the lives of three million people who offer a significant boost to the British economy and are part of everyday life in the UK.

It is not only the rights of the three million who live in the UK that are at risk, it is also the millions of Brits who live abroad in the European Union who may also lose their rights to remain in the countries they currently reside in. Many Brits moved out several years ago in order to take advantage of their ability to live in other parts of the European Union, but the removal of their rights may also mean that they could also lose their legal status to stay in the country that they live in.

Moving Forward

Clearly there needs to be forward movement on this subject. Britain's more than four decade membership of the European Union is about to come to an end and with it the rights of millions of people all over the Union are likely to be affected. It is now time for the British government and the House of Commons to create a clear and coherent plan that ensures that not only does the UK not suffer economically from leaving the European Union, the rights of all of those EU citizens living in the UK, and Brits living abroad, are taken care of to ensure that the minimal damage is done.

Brexit offers the UK a chance to move forward and change its future, but this cannot come at a human cost. The British government now needs to sit down and work Brexit out properly to ensure that either it finds a way to leave the European Union successfully, or it stays in the European Union to ensure that the rights and lives of those who could be affected are not.

 

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