One in 10 EU nationals in UK may leave after June – survey

One in 10 EU nationals in the UK are considering leaving after 30 June, the deadline for applications to remain lawfully in the country post-Brexit, according to a survey.

Common reasons cited in the research included a lack of trust in the government and a feeling that the UK is a less welcoming place as a result of Brexit, with 30% of respondents saying they had concerns that their rights would not be upheld by public bodies.

The research by the Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA), a new statutory body set up under the EU withdrawal agreement, paints a picture of unease about life in the UK after Brexit.

The respondents most likely to leave are German, Spanish or French, male and aged between 45 and 74, live in the north-east or south-east of England and are paid more than £50,000 a year.

Those most likely to stay are Norwegian, Lithuanian or Portuguese, female and aged between 16 and 24, live in Wales and are paid less than £30,000 a year.

It is the first survey by the IMA, which was set up in January under the withdrawal agreement to protect citizens’ rights to live, work and retire in the UK and their access public services such as the NHS.

Kathryn Chamberlain, the IMA chief executive, said there was to work to be done on rebuilding trust among EU citizens. One survey respondent said they were afraid “the government would start treating us like second-class citizens”, while another said: “I believe complaining will change nothing”.

Chamberlain said: “I would ask anyone who thinks they have experienced a breach of their rights to contact us so we can help to resolve the systemic issues.”

One in 10 respondents feared they would be victims of the Home Office’s hostile environment policy, and 7% feared they would be victims of a Windrush-type loss of rights. One in 10 complained that the lack of a physical document to demonstrate their status was already leading to discrimination.

The government has rejected several campaigns for a physical card, leaving EU citizens with a “share code” they must persuade landlords, NHS workers and others to enter into a Home Office website to check their status.

This week the IMA said it was considering using its statutory powers against the government amid concern about the processes of applying for settled status. Home Office figures released on Thursday show 5.42 million people have applied for settled status, and there was a backlog of 300,000 applications as of 30 April.

Kevin Foster, the minister for future borders and immigration minister, urged EU citizens who have not yet applied to do so as soon as possible to “secure the status they deserve in UK law”.


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