Letter to Theresa May – 21 Nov 18

Following Theresa May’s recent speech, we took the opportunity to once again write to her…

Dear Prime Minister,

Once again we find ourselves writing to you in protest at stated British government policy with regard to Brexit, freedom of movement and your treatment of our EU27 friends and
colleagues living in the UK.

In January 2017 in your ‘litmus test’ speech at Lancaster House you said:

“We want to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain, and the rights of British nationals in other member states, as early as we can. The same rules and laws will apply on the day after Brexit as they did before.”

In September 2017 in your speech in Florence you told EU27 citizens in the UK:

“We want you to stay; we value you; and we thank you for your contribution to our national life – and it has been, and remains, one of my first goals in this negotiation to ensure that you can carry on living your lives as before. I am clear that the guarantee I am giving on your rights is real.”

Over the past two and a half years we have tried – time and time again – to highlight the importance of free movement for British citizens living in the EU27. We have pointed out how maintaining our free movement across the EU is the only way you could deliver on your promises above to us and EU27 citizens living in the UK. We have told you how crucial free movement is for us to continue living our daily lives and earning a living, and how for many British citizens it is an essential, not a nice to have. We have raised this in our  discussions with DExEU ministers, civil servants, MPs and British consular officials in our host states. We have also tried to raise this with you in person but you have not seen fit to respond positively to any of our requests to meet with you.

We now know that you never had any serious intention of protecting our free movement rights because your overriding objective in going ahead with Brexit is to end them. The Withdrawal Agreement contains no provisions on continuing free movement and you have negotiated away a fundamental right on which tens of thousands of lives are based and dependent. You have done this against the interests of the UK – economic and otherwise – and against the wishes of the majority of the UK population who, when the reciprocal nature of EU free movement is explained to them, support the concept. And then you pretend – in a promotional video to sell the agreement – that you have negotiated the end of free movement for EU27 citizens into the UK whilst retaining visa free access to the EU for British citizens. As you well know, British citizens will lose free movement too and need a visa to study, live or work in the EU27 but they won’t realise that from your government propaganda.

Not only have we lost our free movement rights, we have also been saddled with settled status in the majority of the EU27 Member States. Over the last three months we have been asking our host states for information on their plans for the implementation of settled status or worse, how we will be treated in the event of a no deal. The consistent response we have received is, “We are waiting to see how your government treats our citizens after March.” This comment has been repeated in capital after capital over the last few weeks. We are in limbo and will continue to be so, all because the EU27 simply do not trust you to respect the rights of their citizens after March 2019.

This distrust that the EU27 were already feeling was made infinitely worse by your speech to the CBI on 19 November 2018 in which you referred to their citizens, our EU27 counterparts, as “queue jumpers.” You tried to set up a nasty “them and us” comparison with non-EU citizens and you cynically refused to recognise that EU free movement is not the same concept as immigration and is a two way street: the same rights that enable a Spanish surgeon to work in Surrey allow a Scottish surgeon to work in Salamanca. That Spanish surgeon contributes to the UK, as does the Italian carer who looks after the British patient discharged into a care home after her stay in hospital, as does the Scottish doctor working in Spain. But you didn’t mention reciprocity or the fundamental differences between free movement and immigration or the role you yourself have so actively and enthusiastically played in preventing Indian software programmers from working in the UK or joining their British spouses and families after marriage. You have, from the outset of your premiership, stressed the importance of reciprocity in relation to citizens’ rights. You must know that your gratuitous denigration of EU27 citizens, designed to appease the wing of your party causing you difficulty at the present time, is dangerously provocative to the governments of the countries in which we live and in whose hands our treatment lies. They will respond in kind.

That comment and that speech were disgraceful. They dishonour your position and should never have been made by any British Prime Minister, let alone one charged with protecting the interests and safety of five million EU27 and British citizens living in each other’s countries, in complex and highly sensitive international treaty negotiations that are yet to be concluded.

You owe every single EU27 citizen living in the UK an immediate apology. We won’t be holding our breath that you’ll give them one. But on top of that, it is time for the xenophobia, the hostile environment and the attacks to stop.

We look forward to receiving your reply at your earliest opportunity.
Yours sincerely

Read it here in full: 

14 thoughts on “Letter to Theresa May – 21 Nov 18”

  1. So much for democracy and broken promises! A second referendum is the only way forward with everyone knowing the real truth this time.

  2. BRILLIANT !!!! In imagining myself working here in France in face of the same insulting rhetoric playing to the far right of her party, I said to myself “not even Marine Le Pen would dare say such a thing here in France” despite here being of the ilk to do so – she’d know it’d be the end of her political career. I already lose all voting rights, freedom of movement of course – needed to accompany students around and yet I feel fortunate to be under Nathalie Loiseau’s juristiction and not May’s or Noakes’. My sentiments are really for my EU colleagues to leave the UK where possible, without worrying about their children’s future elsewhere as children adapt so easily and quickly, I’d worry about my child’s future there more with such harsh views. Never have I had any “foreigner” comments in 28 years in France, I had it in the UK in summer 2016 whilst speaking French with my daughter – the anger grows. Leaving the UK is their loss. Bitterness towards my own country is a terrible thing to have but it’s there and for a long time to come. Thank you 3 million, British in Europe, Olivier Cadic – everyone! I live alone and without a “clan” here, yet you comfort me in not feeling alone. Of course I have applied for French citizenship and hope it will be accepted, as a civil servant the threat is I lose my job if the UK crashes out (technically) . To feel more protected by my host government than my own is usually how a refugee would feel. Sending 5 million my thoughts and affection.

    1. I feel exactly the same way as you do. I am disgusted by the way my birth country is going and I feel desperately let down by MPs and brexit voters who are taking away my hard earned livelihood because of their xenophobia!
      Courage!

  3. Once again it seems we are very low on the list of priorities.
    Shame on our government.

  4. Very well written but sadly sails over the head of the recipient, who sees only votes in the xenophobic views highlighted during the referendum. Now would hope that parliament sees her Brexit for what it is … ‘taxation without representation ‘ … hasn’t history shown us the consequences of this policy ?

  5. This agreement on Citizens rights should have been number one on the list of items for discussion, instead this “Government” has lied and procrastinated for almost two years, they should be ashamed…but of course they are Tories…they just do not care!

  6. Thank you for writing this critical judgement. I support every word of it.

    The Tories will be consigned to the black books of history for this amongst their numerous other litanies. They think they can outright attack or jeopardise the living rights of 5 million people, sweep it under the rug and hope for it to go unnoticed? This surely ought to be condemned by international bodies as human rights abuses.

  7. A well written cery articulate letter . Thank you for your work. Personally we are in an extremely difficult sitution where through no fault of our own after after tragic famiky circumstances, having worked in France for 8 years and living here for 15 we are onky just surving on the french social security system. We will have no rights we are an unwilling burden on the state and we do not now even have right to a carte de sejour. I am sure there are many of us living in such frightening personal and financial circumstances and now totalky at the mercy of the country we had thought would be our home.

  8. Nice, but she doesn’t give a crap about us and almost certainly will never read this letter. She and Cameron deserve their place in history as responsible for screwing up the lives of milllions for generations to come.

  9. Well said! Couldn’t agree more.

    Unfortunately I don’t think it will yield results as she sees us as traitors and deserters to her Brexit dystopia.
    The only value we have in her eyes is as bargaining chips.
    We are in a worse position than the 3 million; they are needed to keep the country running.

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