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“I am not a bargaining chip.” That’s what many of the estimated three million European Union citizens living in the UK are saying as Britain’s prepares to Brexit. The government will begin the process of withdrawing after they trigger Article 50, expected to happen later this month. But the future of EU nationals residing in the UK remains unclear.
The government says residency rights and immigration policy will take priority after they initiate Article 50. But once that happens, negotiations with EU member states could take years. EU citizens, who pay taxes and contribute to Britain’s economy, say they have put their lives on hold while waiting on the government to secure their rights to remain. This is why many are calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to end the uncertainty. Online people have also been campaigning for the #RightToStay, sharing what a future without #The3Million could look like.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has stressed the government’s appreciation for EU nationals and their contributions. However, the government says it would lose “negotiating capital” by unilaterally granting EU citizens the right to remain without securing the same for the 1.2 million British nationals living in the EU. On Wednesday, the argument for reciprocity was defeated when the House of Lords voted 358 to 256 in favour of an amendment to the Brexit bill, guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.
The amended bill now has to go to the House of Commons, but May says the Lords vote will not delay her March Brexit plans. Ahead of the House of Commons vote, The Stream looks at the concerns of EU nationals and how some are responding to living in limbo.
In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Anne-Laure Donskoy @The3Million
Co-Founder, The 3 Million
Axel Antoni @antoni_UK
Charlotte Kude @CharlotteKude
Former Campaigner, Vote Leave
Chloe Westley @ChloeVotedLeave
Spokesperson, Change Britain
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