Thank you to those who have contacted me about Brexit and the status of EU nationals in the UK.
I know that many EU nationals in our area and across the country have endured incredible stress and anxiety over the uncertainty they have faced since the 2016 referendum.
Before the referendum, EU nationals were told there would be no change in their status and that they would be automatically granted indefinite leave to remain. Following the referendum, I consistently called on the Government to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in our country instead of allowing them to be used as bargaining chips in negotiations.
As you know, the Government’s EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is now fully open for EU nationals to apply for settled status or pre-settled status.
I believe an extension to the EUSS deadline may be something the Government has to consider in light of the reduced support for the scheme because of coronavirus. The Settlement Resolution Centre has closed its phone lines, physical applications are no longer being accepted and document scanning centres are closed. Pop-up events to raise awareness of the scheme have also stopped. I fear the impact of coronavirus, combined with the fact that 41% of applications take longer than two weeks to conclude, could therefore put enormous pressure on current the deadline of June 2021.
I have long supported a declaratory scheme for protecting the rights of EU nationals in the UK – meaning EU nationals and family members who meet the eligibility criteria would automatically have their rights to continue to live and work in the UK granted. I believe this is the only way to prevent the risk of another Windrush-type scenario, with potentially thousands of EU nationals unnecessarily criminalised.
EU nationals enrich our society and contribute a great deal to our industries and services. Their future here must be secure. This issue remains a priority for me, both now and into the future, and I will continue to monitor the Government’s treatment of EU nationals and their families.