European citizens living in Britain have told RT about how they fear for their jobs, their safety, and their families as Prime Minister Theresa May’s “hard Brexit” plans threaten their residency rights.
On Thursday, charities, trade unions and lobbying groups launched a cross-party campaign to defend EU nationals in the UK. The “Write to Remain” movement aims to inundate the PM with letters demanding citizens from the remaining 27 member states are able to stay.
There are currently an estimated 3.5 million EU nationals living in the United Kingdom, many of whom have been here for several decades. May has hinted that their right to remain in the country would not be changed, but Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s proposal for companies to hand in lists of their foreign workers has left many frightened.
“My partner was in a state of shock for a couple of days,” father-of-one Ruben de Dios Armesto, who moved from Spain to the UK in 2004, told RT. “She started thinking ‘oh we have to move, we have to’, and I have to keep telling her ‘calm, this is two years, it’s not going to happen for at least two years, so…’”
And while he believed EU nationals should wait to see what deal is offered to them through the Brexit negotiations, he also worries about his little boy’s safety in school.
“Before I travelled without thinking about it, at the moment I go outside where I live which is Whitechapel and I haven’t had any problems whatsoever,” he added. “[Now] I feel weary, I think I’m scared of someone verbally abusing me or something like that because a couple of friends of mine have been verbally abused before, so I feel a bit weird about that.
“I want to be here, but if I am not welcome what’s the point of being here?”
Nearly 52 (17,410,742) percent of voters supported Britain leaving the European Union on the June 23 referendum. Only 48 percent (16,141,241) voted to stay.
Write to Remain, which counts on the support of politicians like Chuka Umunna, pledged to press for an “explicit commitment” from the government that EU citizens living in Britain are safe. The same respectful and welcoming treatment would be expected from European governments towards Brits living in their countries.
“EU nationals here and Brits living in the rest of the EU are people, not pawns to be used in Brexit negotiations,” said Umunna.
“EU citizens living here make an enormous contribution to our economy and our society and they and their families deserve to be given categorical assurances without further worrying delay.”
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary echoed the sentiment saying: “EU citizens living in the UK are our friends, neighbours, and workmates. They might be your doctor or your child’s teacher. It’s immoral to keep them in limbo, and inhuman to treat them as bargaining chips.
“The public believes they deserve to stay, and Brits living on the continent need a guarantee they can stay too. So we call on the prime minister to do the right thing and sign a joint commitment to the right to remain.”