Speaking in the Commons on Thursday 9 January, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner has warned the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union that non-UK EU nationals will be feeling anxious as January 31, the day the UK formally leaves the European Union, looms.
Questioning Cambridgeshire MP Stephen Barclay, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Mr Zeichner said: “Could I urge the Government to be careful about the tone that’s adopted at the end of January. They will appreciate that there are many who do not see this as a moment for celebration, and in particular can I ask the Secretary of State what measures are being put in place for the large numbers of non-UK EU nationals – there are many in Cambridgeshire – who will feel particularly vulnerable at this point.”
The Secretary of State replied: “The member for Cambridge is absolutely right, and I would hope that colleagues across the House would always see that I try and take a tone that does reflect that.”
Mr Zeichner’s intervention, calling for greater clarity on what measures the Government are putting in place to protect EU nationals, follows renewed public concerns from the European Commission about the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK. A draft EU Parliament resolution, reportedly due to be backed by the EU Parliament next week, is set to warn the Prime Minister that it has “grave concerns” over his Government’s attitude towards EU nationals.
The draft withdrawal treaty setting out the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal with the EU enshrines rights for EU citizens to continue living and working in the UK, but concerns have been raised over the effectiveness of the Government’s Settled Status application process, as well as Government changes to the independent watchdog overlooking the process which some are viewing as watering down measures.
Mr Zeichner comments: “I’m glad that the Secretary of State has acknowledged the anxiety that so many EU nationals are feeling, and we should be particularly conscious of their vulnerability at the end of January. What we need from the Government now is a stronger commitment to the protection of their rights post-Brexit, and real action to restore confidence in the Settled Status application process. The UK should be a welcoming country for our EU national friends who have chosen to make this country their home, and it simply isn’t right to leave so many people so anxious about their future.”