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

Theresa May says the right to remain of EU nationals will be subject to negotiation

Image: Number 10

Yvette Cooper, Frances O’ Grady, Douglas Carswell and Gisela Stuart are among the signatories of a letter demanding ‘an unequivocal statement that EU migrants currently living in the UK are welcome here.’

The candidates for the Tory leadership have given inconsistent responses to questions about the status of existing EU migrants.

The frontrunner Theresa May has refused to give a definitive guarantee, echoing David Cameron who said that current residents face ‘no immediate changes’ to their status.

The letter to the Telegraph, written by the think-tank British futures, read:

“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.”

Their criticisms are four-fold. Firstly, that it forces EU migrants to live with anxiety and uncertainty.

Secondly, that it causes uneccesary uncertainty for British businesses and public sector employers, who face ‘retrospective disruption’ to their workforces.

Thirdly, that guaranteeing the rights of Europeans in Britain, the government increases the likelihood that UK nationals living elsewhere in Europe would receive a reciprocal commitment.

Finally, they argue that such a commitment would ‘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.’

Vote Leave’s official stance during the referendum campaign was that EU migrants currently resident would see no change to their status.

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