Bremain in Spain Reacts to Leaked Home Office Immigration Plans
Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain, says: "On reading the leaked plans, the reaction of British citizens living in Spain was fast and furious. Many expressed anger and disbelief at the apparent heartlessness of May's government and it's continued obsession with driving down EU immigration, regardless of the human and economic cost."
"Our thoughts immediately went to EU citizens in the UK who have suffered since the referendum at the hands of the UK government and right-wing media. Our second thoughts turned towards our own situation - how would this policy, if enacted, impact Brits already living in the EU, or planning to do so, should the EU reciprocate?"
She continues: "The implications for citizens who have already exercised their rights of freedom of movement, and those who wish to do so in future, is that rules could be much more restrictive and prohibitive. The negotiations between the UK and EU on citizens' rights have, by necessity, concentrated on the 4.5 million citizens who have already made their lives in another EU country and who continue to live in fear and as bargaining chips."
"Michel Barnier has stated, on many occasions, that any future relationship between the EU and the UK can only be discussed once separation issues have been resolved. Yet again, the UK government is focusing on the scenery after Brexit and not on key issues that must urgently be resolved. If the government put half as much effort into citizens' rights, the Irish border and the exit bill as it does posturing and prevaricating, we might be further forwards in what are currently very strained negotiations."
She adds: "The leaked immigration plans have been widely criticised by media outlets in the UK and in Europe, as well as by employers and industry bodies, including the CBI. Industry leaders described them as 'catastrophic' and 'alarming'. Numerous industries - including hospitality, retail, farming, manufacturing, engineering and health and social care - are reliant on EU citizens. As well as causing staffing issues, this policy would remove the chance of a transitional agreement - or 'implementation period', to use the government's terminology - leading to a hard Brexit and a cliff edge."
"Strangely, the Home Office claims the plans 'would make existing residents better off'. How does it reach that conclusion? It's common knowledge that EU citizens contribute enormously to the UK economy and society - it's not just about money. The UK would be impoverished without their input. EU citizens may choose not to stay anyway as the UK is seemingly becoming a hostile environment."
"I appreciate that various sources have spoken out against the plans but where is the reaction from politicians? With a couple of notable exceptions, we've had radio silence! Are we to assume that Labour would get on board with these plans?"
She concludes: "British citizens in the EU cling to the hope of government reassurance that their currents rights and freedoms will be maintained. What sustains us is a strong belief that Brexit can and will be stopped, and a love for this wonderful country we call home. No matter what the future may hold, we will not give up this fight. Whether we get to remain in the EU or not, we will do everything we can to remain in Spain."
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Notes for editors
For further information please contact
Sue Wilson, Chair
Tel: + 34 696 056 328
Deputy Press Officer
Tel: + 44 7549 504281
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