North East Labour Member of the European Parliament, Jude Kirton-Darling, has signed a cross party letter to Priti Patel, outlining her objections to the Home Secretary's announcement that freedom of movement for EU citizens would end on 31st October, the day the UK leaves the EU.
Currently there are some 3 million EU citizens living, working, studying and paying taxes in the UK and another 1 million UK citizens living in other EU member states. Ending their freedom of movement overnight will not only cause them tremendous fear and uncertainty but could have very real practical implications too. Without the right to remain in the country you are living in you will also lose access to healthcare, the right to work and risk deportation. Can we really cope if all the carers, builders, NHS staff, academics, lorry drivers and agricultural workers from the EU suddenly can't stay?
The danger in taking this hardline approach is that other member states could reciprocate, leaving many UK Citizens stranded. The cross party letter also points out that many EU citizens are not signed up to the resettlement scheme yet - a scheme that has been beset by technical problems and is already causing difficulties for some people who have tried to travel after registering. It is unlikely that 2 million people could be signed up in time, even if they all wanted to.
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP said: "this headline grabbing statement from Priti Patel is very poorly thought through and is nothing short of spiteful. The North East is a community made all the richer by the presence of our EU citizens who contribute so much and have made their lives here, sometimes for decades. I will not stand by and see them left high and dry. As our letter says the Home Secretary must end this cruel and anti-democratic policy and I will keep fighting for this