Dear Philip Hammond: It’s not ‘absurd’ for EU citizens to feel secure in the UK

A constituent writes to the Foreign Secretary over his and Theresa May's post-Brexit haggling with people's lives


The following is a letter sent to Philip Hammond MP, the Foreign Secretary, from one of his constituents, after he echoed Theresa May in saying the right of EU citizens living in the UK to stay here was on the table in Brexit negotiations, and should not be guaranteed. 

Dear Mr Hammond,

I am writing, as your constituent, to express my serious concern over the comments you made to a number of media outlets on 4 July regarding the future status of the two million EU citizens currently residing in the UK.

Rather than committing yourself to a strong pro-European stance at this crucial time, you followed in the footsteps of Theresa May in stating that the rights of these EU citizens would be up for negotiation.

You said it would be ‘absurd’ to guarantee their rights.

I remind you that the UK is committed, through our own laws and through our ratification of international human rights treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights, to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of movement, the right to respect for private and family life, and the right to prohibition of discrimination.

Those rights have not dissolved with the EU referendum.

As an immigrant to the UK myself, I know firsthand what a significant step it is to move to another country as an adult.

In some ways it is a more powerful choice than simply happening to be born somewhere. These two million EU citizens have, like me, made their lives here in Britain.

They have contributed to our economy and enriched our society. Their lives, and their children’s futures, are intertwined with ours. And yet, you somehow feel that it is appropriate to use them as political bargaining chips.

Given the 52.2 per cent vote for Remain in Surrey, as well as the high number of Europeans living in your constituency, it is likely that many of your other constituents would also disagree with your position on this matter.

While this area has historically been a Tory stronghold, in these turbulent times, you should certainly not take that for granted. I call your attention in particular to the success of the Liberal Democrats in the May local elections, as well as the recent nationwide surge in their membership figures.

Now is the time for strong pro-European unity across all parties, not partisan division and individual political ambition. The future of our country, and of Europe more broadly, is at stake.

I urge you to reconsider your position on this matter, and speak out publicly, guaranteeing protection of the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.

Sincerely yours,

Rebecca Vincent

Rebecca Vincent is an American-British human rights activist, writer, and former diplomat. She coordinates the Sport for Rights campaign. Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_vincent

See: Why won’t the Tories protect EU migrants currently in Britain?

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7 Responses to “Dear Philip Hammond: It’s not ‘absurd’ for EU citizens to feel secure in the UK”

  1. NHSGP

    It’s not absurd for the masses to object to having to pay for the ‘guests’ to be here.

    The UK as a free at the point of use system of government services.

    Most of Europe doesn’t.

    Government in the UK has mugged the population for cash to fund its ambitions.

  2. CR

    My son felt rather insecure while he was living with his girlfriends family in NY waiting for his Green Card to come through a year or so ago. That’s life. You get on with it and make the best of it.
    The British Government’s responsibility is to British citizens and those granted temporary residence here, not to every foreigner who turns up on our doorstep.

    We need a system similar to the US Green Card system for all foreign workers here in the UK.

  3. Martin Clarke

    It seems to me what Theresa May and Philip Hammond have said is common sense and perfectly sensible. They are saying that it is highly likely EU citizens will be allowed to stay but the principle of reciprocity applies, for example if France decides that UK citizens can’t stay in France following Brexit it would be unfair to allow French citizens to stay in the UK following Brexit. Likewise if UK citizens are allowed to stay in France then French citizens will be allowed to stay in the UK. It may be harsh but life is harsh.

  4. James Kemp

    How many times it’s NOT the immigrants that have short-changed the whole system it’s the Tory party with it’s stupid and pointless attacks on everyone that isn’t a millionaire. If you take and take out the system and keep on giving companies breaks on their taxes. So where is the money coming from? It’s the people now that is wrong.

    The Tory party could have done something about half the immigration number so what did they do? Nothing…

  5. Watch Ken Clarke trash 'fiasco' Tory leader candidates Gove, May and Leadsom | Left Foot Forward

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  6. Marius Kwint

    This good and principled letter, Rebecca, and needless to say I disagree strongly with the replies, some of them nameless, claiming that EU immigrants are a drain on the economy or services (not true — they’re a net gain to the exchequer by far) or, absurdly, that ‘life is harsh’. That’s a non-argument. Presumably it’s pretty comfortable for the classes who are in a position to write such heartless and dismissive drivel, nor I imagine, for the right-wing Tories & UKIP city boys behind this dreadful, divisive and unnecessary referendum.

  7. Auburn Langley

    Great article, Rebecca. I’m so pleased more people are calling out the rampant disregard of human decency from our politicians.

    To say that it is comparable to the US system of just waiting for a green card is hugely trivialising. When a person goes over to wait for their Green Card, they are well aware of what sort of semi-transient life they are embarking on. This is not the case for the majority of non-British people living here.

    Immigrants/migrants (essentially anyone you assume was born somewhere else due to accent or skin colour) are made up of British citizens/students/travellers/career opportunist/political refugee/people who fell in love and moved across the world/really love old architecture/the list could just keep going.

    A large portion of our country seem to have this idea, that underneath it all, everybody just really wants to come to Britain, like it’s the best country, from Russia to Johannesburg (but then apparently from there down to Cape Towns quite nice). Sure we are highly preferred compared to countries that have violent wars raging or brutal laws against women, or wear their cities have been decimated by bombs. But most are people here because one of our Universities is the best course for them, or their job only operates from here or they fell in love on a Gap Year, and she wanted to stay close to her family. People are diverse!

    Also, talking about people coming here to ‘take advantage’ of our welfare system is unjustified. It’s based on old ideas about what Britain is. “Government austerity policy a breach of international human rights, says UN report” That’s our government they are talking about.

    Most non-British born people have uprooted their lives, separated from loved ones possibly, and probably miss home a bit. I know I found being apart from people hard sometimes while living in Australia, but other times I was happy being away, enjoying the new city, trying doing things just a little different from back home. I mean, I didn’t surf, or like have a BBQ on the beach or anything, because I’m still Scottish. But yeah, just generally making a life for themselves just like everyone else in Britain. Suffering under the same cuts to services, same cuts to jobs and incomes, plus becoming ever more marginalised, by an ever growing racially intolerant public.

    My desire to get a cabin in some remote village, way up North in Canada and just not deal with the world is growing ever stronger.

    My apologies for the long comment, I’ve been so angered by our current political state.

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