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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