EU citizens express concern at being asked to apply to continue living in UK
A finance manager, a teacher and a former member of parliament have told of their anger and disappointment at having to “apply” to remain in the United Kingdom after Brexit.
The Home Office announced on December 27 that EU citizens and their families will have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they want to continue living in the UK after December 31, 2020.
The scheme will be fully open by March 30, 2019, with application costing £65 for those aged 16 and over and £32.50 for under 16s.
The Home Office’s video received more than 7,000 replies from Twitter users, many of them angry.
“We were told during the campaign that our rights would remain the same,” Christian Allard, a councillor for Aberdeen City Council, told the Press Association.
“As soon as the Government decided that we would have to apply to stay here, then I said I won’t apply. I’m sorry, I’m not applying to remain in my own home. I came here in good faith, I know my rights, I’m here by right.”
Mr Allard moved to Scotland in the 1980s from France, and served as a Member of the Scottish Parliament for the North East of Scotland from 2013 to 2016.
“The crucial point is ‘application’,” he continued. “If you apply for something it means that you could be rejected.
“We don’t know yet if Brexit is going to be delayed, so I would ask people not to rush into paying for something which we don’t know what the outcome will be.
“I’m very careful to say that the stance I’m taking is a personal stance.”
Others however aren’t as confident about protesting against the scheme.
Barbara Henderson, 47, is a drama teacher and writer of children’s novels who moved to Scotland from Germany in 1991 to study English at university.
“My next step will have to be to comply with the settlement scheme,” she told the Press Association.
“I’m not going to stick my neck above the parapet and boycott this, for the simple reason that I can’t take risks with my family situation.
“I’ve got children, I’ve got a husband, I’ve got a job – people need me here.
“I’ve been in this country for 27 years. I’ve not been unemployed, I’ve not claimed benefits, I have paid into the system from day one of graduating – in fact, I established a book festival in my town.
“Suddenly it (the scheme) separates me from my family and my community and that’s what riles me. It’s somehow presented as: ‘aren’t you lucky, we’re going to let you stay,’ when I feel like I’ve kind of earned it.”
Liisa Smith, 39, a finance manager from Hertfordshire, is another who feels aggrieved by the scheme.
Mrs Smith is an Estonian citizen who moved to the UK in 2001 – she is concerned that things could become even more difficult in future.
“I appreciate that the small print of the Home Office guideline says that it won’t cost me anything to apply and – currently – it is up to me to decide if I want to swap Indefinite Leave to Remain to Settled Status.
“However, given that the Government rhetoric has changed so much over the past few years and its attitude towards EU nationals is increasingly hostile, who’s to say that it won’t become compulsory later?
“It’s the overall feeling of not belonging and being unwanted that the Home Office video has only endorsed.
“I put myself through two degrees here, worked as a theatre director for years creating jobs for British actors, and volunteered a lot with disadvantaged children and communities because I genuinely loved this country and saw my future here.”