Crowd of people going to work in London. Photo: Chris Schmidt
EU citizens’ right to stay: We need your evidence
I’ve joined a panel established by British Future to look at the detail of how a guarantee to EU27 citizens (people from the 27 countries staying in the EU) currently living and working in the UK could work. The purpose of the cross-party enquiry, which includes panelists who voted Leave as well as Remain, is to clear away practical obstacles to the government making a pledge as soon as possible, and certainly before Article 50 is invoked and the Brexit negotiations formally begin.
But I need your help. British Future are looking for evidence that would help the panel come up with its report, and it would be great if unions were able to supply some of that evidence. The full call for evidence is on the web, but key issues that I suspect unions could (collectively or individually) provide really helpful information on:
- what groups of EU27 citizens in Britain should get permanent residence – there’s a broad consensus that people with jobs should be given the right to stay, but can you help provide examples of people who might not fit that criterion, but should still be allowed to stay permanently, like family members, students and so on;
- what should the cut-off date be for qualifying for the automatic right to stay? Many people have suggested the date should be the date of the referendum, but can you supply case studies that show why people who have or will come to the UK after that day should be granted permanent rights?
- what administrative arrangements need to be put in place so that people can demonstrate their right to remain? Unions have lots of experience of non-EU citizens having to prove they should be allowed to stay – are there lessons here for what EU27 citizens need to do to demonstrate they should be allowed to remain? It would be especially useful to know whether there is evidence from the workplace that would make it simpler to prove rights to remain.
- are there groups who might struggle to prove their status? Again, workplace solutions would be especially helpful.
- what sort of advice services – including those which are or could be delivered by unions – will be needed to make sure people know their rights and can give them effect?
As I say, the full set of questions is on the website, but there may be other questions we need to answer, so do let us know if we’re missing anything too.
The deadline for submitting views (we’re also inviting people to make formal submissions as well as answering the key questions set out in the call for evidence) is 7 September, which is quite a short deadline, especially over the summer. We need to get a move on to have an influence with government. But as a member of the panel, I can also take evidence from trade unions and trade unionists throughout September and feed it in.