4 July 2016

In an open letter published in The Sunday Telegraph and organised by British Future, Open Europe joins Remainers, Leavers and business groups to make clear the status of EU migrants in the UK. But what have the Tory potential leadership candidates said on this matter so far?

Home Secretary and Conservative leadership candidate Theresa May told the Peston on Sunday show on ITV yesterday, “As part of the [EU exit] negotiation, we will need to look at this question of people who are here in the UK from the EU, and I want to be able to ensure that we’re able to not just guarantee a position for those people, but guarantee the position for British citizens who are over in other member states, in other countries in Europe and living there…There’s no change at the moment, but of course we have to factor that into the negotiations.”

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who is backing May, told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, “I hope we will be able to get to a position where we are able to say to those EU nationals who live in the UK, and to those Brits who live in EU countries, everything’s fine, you can stay as you were. But you can’t assume that, we’ve got to negotiate that with our former EU partners.”

Nick Boles, campaign manager for Justice Secretary and Conservative leadership contender Michael Gove, has said that “the residency rights of EU citizens should not be put in doubt. Michael Gove is clear that they are valued members of society.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, who is also running for Conservative leader, tweeted yesterday, “I would allow EU citizens already in UK to continue their lives here, and expect same for Brits in EU. People are not bargaining chips.”

Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, who launched her bid for PM this morning, echoed Crabb, saying that EU citizens already here should be allowed to stay.

Liam Fox MP, has said, “If the price of the relationship with the single market is free movement of people, it’s a price I’m not willing to pay.”

Find the full text of the letter below. Published in The Sunday Telegraph on 03.07.2016.

EU citizens who have already settled in Britain must be made to feel welcome

SIR – Leaving the European Union will bring many changes, most likely including changes to immigration and free movement rules.

There is anxiety for the three million EU citizens who have made their homes in the UK, and the 1.2 million British citizens living in other EU countries. The Prime Minister’s statement that there would be “no immediate changes” to their status will have been less than fully reassuring.

This is also a vital concern for many British businesses and public services employing EU nationals, who do not want retrospective disruption to their workforce at a time of uncertainty.

We would urge the Government, opposition parties and every candidate standing to be the next Conservative Party leader – and hence Prime Minister – to make an unequivocal statement that EU migrants currently living in the UK are welcome here, and that changes would apply only to new migrants. A clear commitment to protect the status of EU migrants was made by the official Vote Leave campaign – and it must be honoured.

By adopting this policy, the UK puts itself in a strong position to seek a reciprocal commitment from other EU members that EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in other EU countries should be able to continue to live and work in those countries. We believe there are principled, practical and legal reasons why this would be the only sensible and decent policy to pursue. Research also shows a strong consensus across Remain and Leave voters in support of this approach.

It would also send a clear statement to the extreme minority – who appear to believe they have licence to attack and harass migrants – that the British public finds their views repugnant and unwelcome in our society.

Daniel Hannan MEP (Con)

Gisela Stuart MP (Lab)

Douglas Carswell MP (Ukip)

Yvette Cooper MP (Lab)

Peter Lilley MP (Con)

Simon Walker
Director, Institute of Directors

Frances O’Grady
General Secretary, TUC

Matthew Elliott
Chief Executive, Vote Leave

Julian David
CEO, techUK

Ian Wright CBE
Director-General, Food and Drink Federation

Professor Sir Cary Cooper
President, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Peter Cheese
Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Nicola Dandridge
Chief Executive, Universities UK

Ufi Ibrahim
Chief Executive, British Hospitality Association

Carol Paris
Chief Executive, Horticultural Trades Association

Sam Bowman
Executive Director, Adam Smith Institute

Roland White
Fellow, Adam Smith Institute

Ryan Shorthouse
Director, Bright Blue

Sunder Katwala
Director, British Future

Tom Kibasi
Director, IPPR

Alp Mehmet
Vice-Chair, Migration Watch

Stephen Booth
Co-Director, Open Europe

David Goodhart
Policy Exchange

Toby Young

Nazek Ramadan
Migrant Voice

Mark Stears
New Economics Foundation

Professor Catherine Barnard
University of Cambridge

Professor Tamara Harvey
University of Sheffield

Professor Simon Hix
London School of Economics and Political Science

Professor Anand Menon
Kings College, London

Professor Steve Peers
University of Essex

Jonathan Portes
Senior Research Fellow, National Institute of Economic and Social Research

Professor Jo Shaw
Edinburgh Law School