European people living in Devon are anxious about their future after irresponsible Government statements -my advice to troubled constituents
One of the worst things about Brexit is the harm and anxiety it has caused to many innocent people living in the Seaton and Colyton area and other parts of the country for over 3 years.
People who have made their homes here – benefiting from the EU’s Freedom of Movement which also benefits British people who go to live, work and study in other European countries – have found their lives turned upside down.
Empty threats, for crude political purposes
Recently, as the new hard-right Johnson government has pursued a No Deal Brexit which risks making things dramatically worse for all of us, the Home Secretary Priti Patel issued a threat to ‘end Freedom of Movement from October 31st’.
This has understandably made many local residents who are citizens of other EU countries worried that they might be barred from returning their homes if they go abroad before that date.
My view, after reading many of the experts, is that Patel’s statement was primarily an outrageous political stunt to encourage racists to believe that the Government is on their side.
It is true that in principle, freedom of movement for new EU arrivals could end if there is no deal. However the Government had long given existing EU residents until the end of 2020 to apply for settled or pre-settled status. They have now repeated that the deadline has not changed.
Indeed yesterday they acknowledged that the whole idea of ending Freedom of Movement on 31 October could be illegal.
My advice for constituents
Therefore in principle people who are already resident in the UK do not need to apply for the new status immediately. As things stand, you should be able to come and go freely until the end of 2020 even without settled or pre-settled status.
However it is just possible that some over-zealous border officials, encouraged by nasty right-wing politicians, might cause problems for a few people. For this reason, if you are travelling to the continent and expect to return after 31 October, it may be best to get settled or pre-settled status now, so that you can prove your right to be here, just in case you are stopped at passport control.
I am happy to give further advice by email (email@example.com) and will phone you to talk about this if you send me your number.