the3million on their open letter to the Tory Leadership candidates and a study on the impact of Brexit on EU families and children.

This week, we wrote to all Conservative Party candidates asking them to honour the promises made during the referendum campaign to EU citizens in the UK and Brits abroad.

The letter reads:

“Dear candidate,

Healing a divided country will be uppermost in your mind as you think about your first, key decisions if you become Prime Minister. There is one easy decision that you could make to build a positive future for Britain: to honour the promises that citizens’rights would be protected in a fair and meaningful way.

British in Europe and the3million represent over five million people who still have no guarantee that their futures are secure after nearly three years. By acting swiftly, you can finally give themcertainty and moral support. You can make sure that there will never be a Windrush-style scandal for EU citizens by supporting our “registration, not application” proposal for a new immigration status after Brexit.  Not only is this the right thing to do, but it would also send a strong signal to EU27 countries as they consider the systems they put in place for UK citizens in their countries.

You can protect a core set of rights that we otherwise stand to lose by enshrining them in law. We look forward to a dialogue with you on the detail1of these critical issues, which are entirely within the UK Government's gift to resolve and do not require any negotiation.

A no deal exit would be devastating for citizens. We will look to the future Prime Minister to continue the positive work already done on citizens’ rights in the UK Parliament and elsewhere. This includes reinvigorating the dialogue with the EU as advocated by the “Costa Amendment” in order to protect the rights already negotiated in an international treaty, whatever the outcome of Brexit. Parliament voted unanimously in favour of this amendment  -a clear signal that acting to protect citizens’ rights commands overwhelming cross-party support, as well as being uncontroversial.

Moreover, it is only fair that citizens of EU27 countries living in the UK and British residents in the EU27 countries have the same protection as the EEA/EFTA states and Switzerland -countries with which the UK Governmenthas already reached mutual agreement to protect rights that cannot be guaranteed unilaterally, such as social security coordination and coordination on professional qualifications.

We are the five million ambassadors for an outward-looking Britain who have made our lives on both sides of the channel. We count on you to make protecting these lives a priority and to place this at the heart of your leadership campaign.”

[Download the full letter here.]

On Wednesday, I spoke in Parliament on behalf of the3million at the Eurochildren reports launch event.

Eurochildren is a project led by Birmingham University Professor Nando Sigona, to study the impact of Brexit on EU families and children. Migrant Voice, the3million and immigration barrister Colin Yeo were partners on this crucial research project.

Firstly, I want to thank Preet Gill MP for hosting the public meeting, Nando Sigona for inviting the3million into the Eurochildren research project and Anne-Laure Donskoy, who has now left the3million but dedicated many hours to this project.

Brexit has thrown many EU families into disarray, as they ponder their future in a country which has become ambivalent about Europe and immigration.

For example, so many EU parents do not realise that their British born children won't automatically become British, causing all sorts of worries and cost when they try to get them a British passport.

This research is important, as it looks at the factors and motivations driving the naturalisation of EU citizens, and should be looked at carefully by British politicians, as they are considering how Britain will manage the hundreds of thousands of EU families living in the UK after Brexit.

What strikes me is that the research formalised what we at the3million have been hearing for the last three years from EU citizens across the UK, and people feel threatened in the country they call home.

I urge MPs and parliamentarians to read the reports and understand how we feel as EU citizens living in the UK.

At the end of the day, the UK is our home, and we need a lifelong guarantee about our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Windrush is on everybody’s mind, and the changes needed are not being acknowledged by the Government at the moment to prevent another scandal in the future.

We need:

  • Settled status to be a registration, not an application
  • EU citizens to have a physical document proving their status rather than being guinea pigs in a digital-only system whose databases are shrouded in secrecy
  • Reduced barriers to British Citizenship for all, especially for EU children
  • No Windrush 2.0 for EU citizens in the UK

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Did you know the3million is the leading non-profit organisation of EU citizens in the UK? We are grateful of your support, as we simply could not have campaigned for citizens’ rights over the last 24 months without you. If you can afford it, please become a paying supporter today to allow the campaign to continue for the next 24 months and beyond if necessary.

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[This piece was originally published on the3million newsletter. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/ChiralJon - Brexit protest opposite the Palace of Westminster, London. | 11 Dec 2018. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)