Dear Theresa… My Response to Theresa May’s Letter to EU Citizens

Dear Theresa

I am writing in response to your Open Letter. Unfortunately the agreement reached last week is ‘too little, too late’, and your open letter adds insult to injury to millions of people after nearly 18 months of anxiety and uncertainty.  I have lived here for 27 years – my entire adult life – and have a family, friends and a business here.  I do not feel reassured.  I am more terrified and angry than ever.

For a start, it is simply not true that protecting our rights – and the rights of British Citizens living in other EU countries – has always been your stated first priority.  On 4th July 2016, you stated that you would not guarantee us the right to remain in the UK post-Brexit, but that this would be part of the negotiations and would depend on whether UK citizens in other EU countries would be able to remain there.  When in May this year the EU27 offered a far more comprehensive, simple and fair deal for EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU, you did not accept this, leaving not only us, but your own citizens in a worse position as a result.

The protection afforded to us by the ECJ will be very limited after March 2019.  It will rely on UK courts asking the ECJ for an interpretation of the law, as opposed to citizens being able to appeal to the ECJ directly, and will only last for 8 years.  You say that the agreement will be written into British law, but it is not possible for one parliament to bind subsequent parliaments, so this can always be repealed in future, as is indeed stated in clause 36 of Friday’s joint report.

We shouldn’t have to apply for ‘settled status’, it should be done by declaration, and free of charge.  And frankly, with the Home Office’s track record of errors and rejections for permanent residence document applications, how will any new system be able to cope with registering 3m EU citizens in the planned timescales?  After Brexit, an erroneous rejection could result in having our bank accounts frozen, jobs terminated, accommodation lost and, ultimately, forced removal from the country. I do not relish being at the mercy of your ‘hostile environment’.

So no, Theresa.  I do not feel reassured.  I will not sit back and meekly wait.  I will keep protesting, I will keep campaigning, and I will keep speaking up to stop you treating us like disposable commodities.

Frederika Roberts,

Worried EU Citizen and Citizen of the World