On why Brexit is a discrimination project that takes away EU citizens’ equal rights, and why the3million will keep fighting in favour of physical documents that would prove their right to stay in their homes.


First published in January 2020.


It is only three days until the UK leaves the EU and we are being asked the same question over and over again. What’s next for EU citizens in the UK?

From our point of view, Brexit is a discrimination project which takes away our equal rights as EU citizens in another member state, and forces us to apply to stay in our homes.

On a practical level, you and your family members need to know that it won’t be safe to live in the UK without a valid immigration status from July 2021 and you should make sure you can continue to remain a lawful resident. Our partner charity Settled has published simple guidelines in different languages, and I encourage you to share them with people who haven’t yet got pre-Settled Status, Settled Status or Indefinite Leave to Remain.

“You and your family members need to know that it won’t be safe to live in the UK without a valid immigration status from July 2021.”

This month, we at the3million have been doing hundreds of interviews with British and international media, and we are repeating the same message: EU citizens have made their home here, but the atmosphere has changed. It is often hard to express in words how we feel, as we face hostility and possible discrimination.

Since 2016, there has been a damaging rhetoric of ‘us and them’, and many of ‘us’ have experienced it in our private lives.

Sometimes, it is only a glance when we speak as our accent reveals more than we intended. Other times, it is a not-so-funny joke from a colleague or a family friend asking ‘when we are going back?’. And for the most unlucky ones, it is a violent xenophobic attack, whether verbal or physical.

Overall, there is now an assumption that we need to prove our place in the UK, and many of us feel that we don’t belong anymore. The word cloud (cover) is taken from the excellent research published last week by Professor Tanja Bueltmans, which illustrate this point perfectly. You can read more about the report in last week’s piece.

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Download and read the full report here

The UK Government is not on our side, either.

First, they considered us as the bargaining chips of the Brexit negotiations; then we became statistics as they measured success by the number of applications to Settled Status. Throughout, they have been tone-deaf when the3million has voiced legitimate concerns and worries about the new scheme.

Yet, nothing is done to support our integration apart from empty words from ministers, an application scheme which may work for many but ultimately fails the most vulnerable who cannot apply through no fault of their own, and the ludicrous absence of a physical document, the one thing which would reassure us of our future on these islands.

Talking of physical documents, the online portal for employers or landlords to check our status was down for over an hour this weekend, and we have no confidence the Government can prevent it from breaking down again.

The online portal for employers or landlords to check our status was down for over an hour this weekend.

There is a simple solution to this: to issue a physical document to all pre-Settled Status and Settled Status holders. the3million will continue to fight for this and to hold the Government to account.

Finally, we cannot afford to get depressed though, and this Friday, we are organising a commiseration Eurotrash party in a German pub in London. Come and celebrate the only Brexit silver lining there is with us: the wonderful EU citizens we have met along the rocky road since the Referendum. There are 50 tickets still available, so book early to avoid disappointment.

For more information and tickets, go to: EventBrite.co.uk

They can take us out of Europe but they cannot take Europe out of us.🔷

 

Did you know the3million is the leading non-profit organisation of EU citizens in the UK? If you can help their campaign to continue, you can:


 



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[This piece was originally published on the3million newsletter and re-published in PMP Magazine on 28 January 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: the3million.)



     

THE AUTHOR

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the3million is the largest group of EU citizens in the UK, with a team of 50-ish active volunteers working on advocacy, policy, legal, media, social media, grassroots and events.