The unprecedented nature of Britain leaving the EU means that the nation’s future is, by all accounts, uncertain. And the events of recent days have done little to alleviate this pervasive sense of uncertainty, but perhaps none more so than for the 3.7 million EU citizens currently residing in the UK.
Phil Smith, Managing Director, Business West said:
“Despite reassurances from Government regarding the right to remain, the lack of progress on this issue has led to concerns that EU citizens’ rights will be used as a bargaining chip after all. The consequences of which are having a real human cost, tearing friends, families, colleagues and communities apart.”
Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary, TUC South West said:
“Trade unions know that many EU workers remain anxious for their future.
Union reps are working with employers every day to limit the risks of losing key staff. From distribution firms in Avonmouth to hospitals across Bristol, from aerospace engineers to restaurants, our economy relies on workers from the EU. They should not be held as pawns any longer and be given guarantees over their rights before Christmas.”
It is also highly unsettling for business, as Charlie Allen, Managing Director, Shiner, explained:
“EU citizens from outside the UK are an integral part of Shiner. Good people who are adding great value to our country are already leaving.
“Our company and the communities in which it operates would be much poorer places without them. We have to give certainty whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations to these EU nationals.”
Ines, a Euopean working in Bristol said:
“I have absolutely no idea where I stand as a European national, where to begin confirming my 23 years of living and working in the UK, or even how much this will all cost. I do worry about my status – something I never had to think about before.
“All I’ve heard are empty words of assurances so I’m not surprised so many are leaving or thinking of leaving. There is no doubt in my mind that we are pawns in this politically-fuelled Brexit game.”
Phil Smith added:
“Charlie and Ines’ accounts are just one of many across our region, which underlines the human cost and disruption to businesses that a failure to guarantee the rights of EU citizens is causing.
“For businesses in our region who rely heavily on migrant workers from the EU 27, the uncertainty cannot be allowed continue. We therefore call on the UK government and EU27 to unilaterally guarantee their status and future rights before Christmas.
“Neither side need wait for the other to do this. If many who go home for holidays simply do not come back, I fear this would have a damaging impact on growth in our region, so take action now.”