Over three million EU nationals currently live in the UK, and more than a million UK citizens are living in the continent. These are the people who will suffer the true consequences of Brexit. But what has been done so far to help them during the transition?
There has been such a lack of transparency in the Brexit negotiations, that the people that are most affected by it live in a constant state of panic, not knowing what is going to happen to them.
Here at loaded, we have tried to make sense of what has been announced so far, and have come to these conclusions:
Apparently, studies reveal that over a million EU citizens in the UK could be deported, as it would take 47 years for the Home Office to process all the permanent residency (PR) applications. Helena Kennedy QC, from the House of Lords, warned EU citizens and advised them to start collecting documents that can prove how long they have been living in the UK.
The PR application, which non-EUs already suffer through, is 85 pages long and even the smartest of the smartest would have trouble filling in. The applicant needs to provide five years of residence through documents such as bills. So if you are a mother of British children with a British husband and none of the house bills have your name on them, you are screwed. And if you travel a lot for work, good luck, because you also have to document every single time you have been out of the country during your years residing in the UK.
You know, that thing most people in the world have. There are legal experts claiming that there is no chance EU citizens will keep their rights after Brexit (work, pensions, public services…)
If things keep this same path, the UK expats will also see their rights abroad change drastically. Of the more than a million living abroad, more than 300,000 live in Spain and over 250,000 moved to Ireland. Theresa May doesn’t seem to want to guarantee the rights to EU citizens until she can be sure that UK expats will have theirs. But then again, you can’t expect EU countries to be too happy right now after Brexit. The UK has to make the first move here.
Better if you already live in the UK
Not that things are going to be easier if you are already in the UK, but life for EU citizens already living in the isles will be a bit less complicated than for those who arrive in the UK after Brexit negotiations are finalised. Or for those who arrived after June 23. Or after whenever Article 50 will be triggered. The deadline is not clear yet.
Helena Kennedy also suggested that EU citizens have a new status created just for them, as EU citizens in Britain, so that they don’t have to go through the aforementioned PR application and collapse Britain’s Home Office.
No word on that yet (no word on almost anything), but if things go through, it is most likely that EU citizens who want to travel to the UK will have to go through a visa process like non-EUs have been doing so far, and the same works for British travelling to the EU.
The underlying issue
The saddest thing of all is that most EU citizens living in the UK see the triumph of Brexit not as Brits actually voting for something they think will improve their economy and whatnot, but as people who are letting their xenophobia show up and who want to kick foreigners out of their country, who don’t appreciate the benefits of having people from all over Europe working and living in the UK, sharing their culture and adapting to the British one as well. Now millions will never get the chance.