We must end the uncertainty on EU citizens rights

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

The result of the EU referendum changed an awful lot: the Prime Minister, the economic outlook, Britain’s political discourse and our standing in the world. But there are 3.6 million people whose lives have been affected more than most. These are the citizens of other EU countries who live in the UK.

There are 3.6 million people whose lives have been affected more than most.

For them, the referendum created a cloud of uncertainty that they’ve been living under ever since. Would they be able to continue to live, work and study here if the UK leaves the EU?

After months of campaigning, we secured a promise from the Government that those rights would be protected, which is what the draft Withdrawal Agreement does.

However, there is no guarantee that a Windrawal Agreement will be finalised before 29th March next year. For the 3.6 million, the uncertainty remains.

@EdwardJDavey speaking up for the rights of EU citizens in the UK at the @The3Million rally.

Any deal is likely to affect EU citizens negatively and UK citizens in the EU

That is why we all need a #PeoplesVotepic.twitter.com/9piCX5BSsQ

— Tom Brake MP (@thomasbrake) November 5, 2018

And last week, that uncertainty was heightened by the Immigration Minister. Far from guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens after Brexit, she said that they would be subject to the same immigration checks as new arrivals, with no documentation to demonstrate their rights.

This confusion, delay and indecision is completely unacceptable

The Home Secretary soon contradicted his Minister, only for the Prime Minister’s spokesperson to contradict them both. “The work is ongoing and we will set out the details in due course,” he said, as if he was talking about a new extension on his house or his holiday plans for Christmas – not the lives of 3.6 million people.

This confusion, delay and indecision is completely unacceptable. The Conservative Government is holding millions of people in limbo while Ministers fight amongst themselves.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must honour the agreement on citizens’ rights to provide certainty. The current fingers-crossed situation is inhumane and unjustifiable.