Polish expats in UK urge ringfencing of rights post Brexit

Published:  9 Aug at 6 PM
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Britain’s Polish community is urging May to guarantee their rights in the event of a hard Brexit.

The Federation of Poles in Great Britain charitable organisation is now voicing concerns over the plight of Poles in the UK following a hard Brexit. The group hasn’t spoken before, but now believes it’s compelled to appeal on behalf of the more than a million Polish expats living, studying and working in the UK. Trepidation, it states, is now growing in the community due to increasing worries about non- involvement in discussions and the impression that its needs are now being overlooked.

According to chairperson of the charity’s trustees Tadeusz Stenzel, the Polish community in the UK represents over a third of all European expats living in the UK, with parents in particular growing even more uneasy about their futures in their chosen country. Stenzel points out that almost all Poles in the UK are taxpayers, thus making a strong contribution to the economy as well as contributing to society as a whole. Some 200,000 Polish children were born in the UK.

The charity’s letter to Theresa May made it clear she could easily ringfence EU citizens’ provisions already stated in the draft withdrawal agreement signed in March last year. The Polish association’s concerns echo the positions of a number of other groups lobbying for expats’ rights both in the UK and EU, including the 3 Million and many business organisations. However, it points out Polish migrants who don’t have fluent English language skills are likely to be at a severe disadvantage as regards registering for May’s new ‘settled status’ immigration category.

Polish families, it adds, have been trusting and patient, hoping the British government would stick to its promise that EU citizens could stay after Brexit is finalised, but fears are now arising that discrimination by employers and landlords could result in homelessness and financial hardship.

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