EU citizens in UK to fight for post Brexit residency law

Published:  20 Jan at 6 PM
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A protest group formed by French expats is preparing to campaign for a new law giving protected rights to all EU expatriates in the UK.

Marketing executive Nicholas Hatton is spearheading the group’s efforts to end what he calls ‘xenophobic rhetoric’ by forcing British MPs to grant permanent residency to all EU expats settled in Britain. His 3million forum group was inspired by a Bristol meetup of 200 French EU citizens, all of whom were desperately concerned about their rights to stay and work in the UK.

The group is based on Hatton’s stance that the issue should be treated as if it applied to an industry sector, in which lobbying is used to convey the necessity of urgent action. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, he said the group’s focus will be on future UK government moves and the need to protect the rights of long-stay French expats in the UK.

Immigration lawyers are now advising EU citizens wishing to stay in the UK to make application for permanent residence. Although there is, as yet, no need to do so, lawyers consider the move offers a degree of protection should Theresa May fail to get a reciprocal agreement covering both UK citizens in Europe and EU citizens in Britain. International law covers the right to own a business and property, but not the right to remain.

Recent media reports of the bureaucratic nightmare involved in applying for permanent residency aren't encouraging expats attempting to take up their rights in this direction. One such, 25-year resident and professor of behavioural biology at Aberdeen University David Lessau, told the media the paperwork is terrifying and has made him feel he’s being treated like a second-class citizen.

According to Hatton, the 85-page application form is unfit for the purpose, with his group set to urge the Home Office to produce a document designed for EU citizens who have, at present, the right to freedom of movement. Group members are being urged to lobby their local MPs, and 3million’s private Facebook page has already attracted over, 3,000 followers.
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