Professor Tanja Bueltmann on why the Prime Minister should not mention “the interests of citizens” and “heart” in the same sentence.

So you, through your spokesman, today hit back at the European Union, noting that Brexit negotiations need to be approached “with the interests of citizens at heart”. Let us take a moment to look at that.

This is you. Before you even became PM. Making clear the 3 million of us would be made part of the negotiations. People, their futures, made bargaining chips. By you. Nobody else.

“What’s important is there will be a negotiation here as to how we deal with that issue of people who are already here and who have established life here and Brits who have established a life in other countries within the European Union.”

“The position at the moment is as it has been, there’s no change at the moment, but of course we have to factor that into negotiations.”

“As part of the negotiation we will need to look at this question of people who are here in the UK from the EU.” — Theresa May on Peston on TV, The Independent (3 July 2016)


This is you. Refusing three times in a row to guarantee the rights of us, the 3 million EU citizens, were there to be no deal.

Iain Dale: “Can you guarantee that Nina, and all the millions of people like her, would be able to stay with all the rights that they enjoy at the moment?”

Theressa May: “We’ve looked at the rights of people staying here if we get a deal...”

Iain Dale: “We’re talking about their rights in a no deal.”

Theressa May: “The government across the board is doing work on that.”

Iain Dale: “But why can’t you just say Prime Minister? We talk about it all the time on the programme, and every time my switchboard lights up. Why can you not sit down here and say of course you will be able to say under any circumstance?”

Theressa May: “Well I’m going to get a bit technical here Iain.”

Iain Dale: “If you must.”

Theressa May: “There are certain rights that pertain to someone that is an EU citizen here in the UK by virtue of being an EU citizen. Thinks like the benefits that they're able to access in their home country and the UK.”

“Some of those things would fall away in a no deal scenario. I want EU citizens to stay here in the UK and enable those people to stay.”

“We’re not going to be throwing EU citizens who are currently here in the UK out of the UK in the future.” — Theresa May with Ian Dale, LBC (10 October 2017)


This is you. Pulling a publicity stunt about settled status. Let’s be clear: it is a forced application process by the end of which we will have fewer rights than before. By the end of which some of us will have fallen through the cracks.

“When we started this process, some accused us of treating EU nationals as bargaining chips. Nothing could have been further from the truth.”

“EU citizens who have made their lives in the UK have made a huge contribution to our country. And we want them and their families to stay. I couldn’t be clearer: EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay.”

“We are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future. This process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way.” — Theresa May, The Guardian (18 October 2017).

Click here!!

This is you. Advancing a Data Protection Bill that includes an immigration exemption. For anyone in an immigration procedure — because of settled status this will soon include us the 3 million EU citizens — this means no data protection rights.

“Tens of thousands of people each year could be prevented from obtaining information about their own immigration status under new data protection powers, Home Office figures reveal.”

“Changes proposed in the data protection bill, which was debated by MPs on Wednesday, would deprive applicants of a reliable means of obtaining files on themselves from the department through what are known as subject access requests (SARs).”

“The decision to grant the Home Office an exemption to such requests in immigration matters has already been criticised by campaign groups.” The Guardian (9 May 2018).

This is you. Making money from those British citizens in Europe who have chosen to apply for citizenship of an EU27 country to secure their future — something many are doing at least partly because you have not helped them with anything.

“The Home Office has hiked fees sharply for UK nationals to renounce their British nationality, following a Brexit surge in people adopting the citizenship of other European countries.”

“Ministers were accused of “cashing in on Brexit” and giving Britons living on the continent a “last kick out the door” after it emerged fees were quietly raised to more than £1,000 for a family of three.” The Independent (29 May 2018).

This is you. Lying about citizens’ rights. Yet again.

“I made it clear that any deal guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK would be dependent on such an offer being reciprocated for our UK nationals in the remaining Member States - and that’s exactly what we’ve achieved.” — Theresa May, Twitter (19 December 2017).

This is you. Making sure our rights were not unilaterally agreed at the earliest opportunity.

“Cameron, who was prime minister at the time (in the days immediately after the referendum), tried to get his cabinet to agree to assure EU citizens of their right to stay in the UK, but May, then home secretary, refused to agree.”

“May ‘insisted on blocking’ the ‘unilateral offer’ for people from other EU states in the UK.”

“May was the only cabinet member at the time to oppose granting the right to stay to EU citizens immediately.” Business Insider (23 June 2017).

This is you. One number: 704. That is the number of days millions of people have been living in limbo now. Because of all of your actions above. That represents:
🛑 16,896 hours
🛑 1,013,760 minutes
🛑 60,825,600 seconds too many.

Tomorrow it will be the number 705. etc.

And, of course, all of that is you before we even get to you robbing millions of Britons in the UK, millions of young people here, of their EU citizen rights.

So, because of all of this, you really do not get to mention the words ‘interests of citizens’ and ‘at heart’ at the same time.

There is no high horse here that you get to sit on.

Only shame.

For you.🔷

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(This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected.)

(Cover: Flickr/Number 10 - Prime Minister Theresa May visiting Jodrell Bank to outline the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, 21 May 2018.)



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Professor of History & Faculty Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor Knowledge Exchange. Faculty of Arts Design & Social Sciences, Northumbria University. Migration & diaspora history. Anti-Brexit campaigner.

Newcastle, UK. Articles in PMP Magazine Website