North East Members of the European Parliament, Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen, reacted with dismay today at Teresa May’s comments over the issue of citizens’ rights, which have once again thrown Brexit negotiations with the EU into disarray.
Teresa May has today said that EU citizens coming into the UK after 29th March 2019 - the date on which Article 50 takes effect – must be treated differently and vowed to end their freedom of movement. This is in contrast to her previous statements which indicated that EU citizens would be protected during the transition period.
Following a request from the Conservative government it was agreed in December last year that the UK would have a transition period of 2 years following the country’s departure from the EU on the understanding that this would mean the UK would be subject to the same rules and regulations that we are now. In exchange the UK would continue to have access to the single market and customs union. The transition period allows negotiations on our future relationship and trade to continue without putting jobs and investment at risk from a “cliff edge” scenario. Part of the agreement was that EU citizens’ rights would remain protected and kept the same as they are now.
Today in the European Parliament MEPs held a hearing on “citizens rights after Brexit”. The hearing was attended by groups and individuals affected by the Brexit process and they gave evidence and personal accounts to key members of the European Parliament and Brexit steering group. North East MEP Jude Kirton-Darling contributed to the debate apologising to those present for the latest actions of the UK Prime Minister and yet another U-turn that further muddies the waters concerning the rights of both UK and EU citizens.
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP said:
“On the Petitions Committee we are hearing many stories on how families are worried about what will happen to them. I am extremely frustrated over Teresa May’s utter disregard towards the lives of millions of people living here and in the EU. By contradicting the already agreed terms she is jeopardising the rights of citizens already living in the North East and wider UK, meaning they now have to go back to the uncertainty of not knowing what their futures will hold.
"People are already in a very precarious situation, they feel very vulnerable and adding further insecurity to people who are not at the root of this, didn't have a voice or a vote in this process, is absolutely shameful. It’s about time the government stopped playing politics with people’s lives.”
Paul Brannen MEP said:
“By agreeing one thing with the EU then saying another to the UK press in China the Tory government is revealed as both chaotic and untrustworthy. The government seems incapable of doing the right thing by its citizens that live in the EU. A sudden end to freedom of movement is no good for the businesses and public services that rely on EU workers and causes difficulties for the economy here in the North East, something that we should all be trying to avoid.”