With negotiations over Britain’s future relationship with the EU now under way, Theresa May still hasn’t spoken out to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals currently living in Britain. Instead the Tory government has stated that it wants to wait until it gets an offer from EU member states securing the rights of British nationals abroad. People’s lives, their relationships, homes and future plans, are all being used by politicians as bargaining chips.
Stand Up to Racism (SUtR) has launched a statement calling on the government to guarantee indefinitely all rights currently enjoyed by EU citizens in Britain. Initial signatories include Lord Peter Hain, David Lammy MP, Claude Moraes MEP, trade union leaders, migrant community activists, Jewish and Muslim organisation representatives and more.
As the statement notes, “Already any EU national applying for proof of residency must now show they have been living and working in Britain for the past five years… Those who have not been working must reportedly show they took out comprehensive health insurance — a requirement that was little known until recently…Only 96 nurses joined the NHS from other European nations in December 2016 — a drop from 1,304 in July that year. This comes at a time when there are 24,000 nurse vacancies unfilled and the government’s withdrawal of bursaries for trainee nurses is making matters worse.”
On 29 March, the day that Brexit was triggered, local SUtR groups organised leafleting sessions, workplace mass selfies and town centre protests over the rights of EU nationals. These kinds of solidarity actions — alongside practical help for EU workers — are crucial. No one should be left to feel they are fighting alone.