By Monika Armet
Following on from my previous article for The Orkney News,( How Long will EU Nationals’ Lives Be Left in Limbo?), I have written emails about my situation and highlighting the prolonged wait to secure EU nationals’ rights to stay in the UK. I sent them to Orkney & Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrat) and 6 Scottish MEPs (Members of European Parliament):
- Catherine Stihler, Labour;
- Alyn Smith, SNP;
- Ian Duncan, Conservative;
- David Martin, Labour;
- David Coburn, UKIP;
- Ian Hudghton, SNP.
The first person to reply (on the same day) was from Catherine Stihler’s Head of Office, Yvonne Thorpe. She said she was sympathetic with my position, as well as other EU nationals, adding that Catherine Stihler as a MEP had no influence over many issues but she believed that the status of EU nationals in the UK would be the first thing to be negotiated.
I was somewhat disappointed that the answer did not come directly from Catherine Stihler, but from her Head of Office.
The second reply I received was from Alyn Smith, SNP. He stressed that on 24th of June 2016, Nicola Sturgeon had reiterated that if you’re an EU national in Scotland, you’re welcome here as your contribution is highly valued. He said that the current Government could guarantee EU nationals’ rights today, but they chose to treat them as bargaining chips. Mr Smith has written that I was not a bargaining chip and that he is deeply concerned about the status of other EU nationals.
The third reply was David Martin, Labour and he was also very sympathetic with the current situation but he said he was ‘in the dark’ about the future prospects.
The fourth reply was from Ian Hudghton, SNP, who said that the SNP team in Westminster will continue to hold Theresa May’s government to account over its treatment of EU nationals living in the UK, and both he and Alyn Smith will make sure EU citizens’ voices are heard in Brussels and Strasbourg.
I am very interested to hear what Ian Duncan, Conservative and David Coburn, UKIP would say, mainly because the Conservatives are in power now and also because the previous leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, was the head of the ‘Leave’ campaign. I haven’t received a reply from either them or even an acknowledgment that my email was received.
My MP , Alistair Carmichael, didn’t reply to my email, I contacted him again and then his office invited me to come for a meeting. Mr Carmichael took a copy of my refusal letter for permanent residency from the Home Office and he said he was offended on my behalf in how I was treated. He also said that it’s shameful that the current UK Government hasn’t secured EU citizens’ rights to stay yet and they could have done at any time up until now. He promised to take this matter forward.
Article 50 was triggered on 29th March 2017 and the current Government still has not secured EU nationals’ rights to stay in the UK. Instead, Theresa May has decided that the country needed another General Election, even though last year she said there wasn’t going to be one until 2020. EU nationals in the UK are not allowed to vote in the General Election, so yet again we are not allowed a voice in the matter.
The Home Office has started to deter people from applying for permanent residence in the UK. On their website they have published an update saying our rights remain the same as the UK is still in the EU and this document is not needed. However, the data released by the Home Office states that there was a 36% rise in PR (permanent residency) applications from EU nationals, increasing from 10,269 three months before the referendum to 16,009 three months after the Brexit vote. Home Office employees are having difficulties in processing all the applications, with as many as 100,000 waiting to be handled. The application is 85 pages long and it expects people to provide loads of information about themselves, their families, bank accounts and utility bills, as well as details of all their travels in 5 years they’ve lived in Britain. All of this is unrealistic for many people, even though they lived legally and lawfully in the UK for many years.
It looks like it is another waiting game for EU citizens, as nothing will be done until after the General Election in June, meaning it will be a year, if not more, before any agreement is reached on our status.
A link to Home Office website, trying to refrain people from applying for PR: