An open letter to the Prime Minister

An open letter to Theresa May
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

On 19th October 2017, we received a letter from Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, ahead of her meeting with the European Council as part of the UK’s Brexit negotiations. Given that she had taken the trouble to write to us, we thought it only polite to reply. This is our response.

Dear Theresa,

Thank you for your letter explaining what you are doing to secure the rights of European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom and of UK citizens living in other EU member states. We were relieved to hear that you are taking this issue so seriously. Because your actions and those of your government since the referendum in June 2016 have given a very different impression.

You say that the rights of EU and UK citizens are your first priority. This is reassuring. But it would be slightly more reassuring, we feel, if it had not taken you sixteen months to come to this conclusion. You have left three million EU citizens living in the UK and over a million UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU in a state of increasing anxiety. And you have done nothing.

The freedom of European Union citizens to live and work without hindrance in any of the twenty eight member states has been one of the most positive and profound impacts of our collective European endeavour. As a married couple of one British citizen (Simon) and one German national (Natalie), it has formed the bedrock of our shared life together. And of the future plans that now lie in tatters. And we are not alone.

The three million EU citizens living in the UK work hard, pay their taxes and contribute to our society. They are our doctors and our nurses. They are our office workers, our builders and our taxi drivers. They crew our fishing boats, they look after our elderly and, yes, they pick our strawberries. But your inaction has created a climate where they no longer feel welcome. Where they fear for their future.

And it is not just these individuals who are affected, Theresa. You have left their – often British – spouses, their children, their friends and their employers in a state of enduring limbo, too. Punctured with vile threats from various members of your government about complex registration procedures, loss of rights, compulsory fingerprinting, exorbitant fees and more. Oh, and with your Home Office writing to numerous EU citizens demanding that they make immediate preparations to leave the UK.

You could so easily have given reassurance to these people that their rights would be protected. Or at the very least that they were not about to be rounded up by the goon squad. But you chose not to. While our family and our friends have shown nothing but love, kindness and compassion, our government has done nothing. And for that, Theresa, we are afraid that we cannot forgive you.

You complain that your government has been accused of treating EU citizens living in the UK as ‘bargaining chips’ in your negotiations with the European Union. Yet it was Liam Fox, your very own Secretary of State for International Trade (and our constituency MP), who claimed that EU citizens in the UK are ‘one of our main cards’ in negotiating a Brexit deal. So please forgive us if we find your protestations somewhat disingenuous.

You also seem a little optimistic about the current status of the negotiations between the UK and the EU.

You imply in your letter that a formal agreement is almost complete, with only minor issues left to negotiate. But that is patently not true. You must surely recognise this. There is no agreement. And there is no immediate prospect of one.

So you are, in our view, either hopelessly out of touch with your own government or not being entirely straight with us. Or, quite possibly, both.

But let us be honest, Theresa. Your letter is not really aimed at us. You have not given a monkey’s about our rights until now. You have only written to us because the European Union is furious at your lack of action in this area and you are trying desperately to dig yourself out of the colossal Brexit black hole that you, David Davis, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and others have created.

You are not ‘putting people first’, as you claim. You are putting your government first. You are putting yourself first. You are putting your party’s ideological loathing of all things European ahead of the future of your country and of those who have chosen to call it their home.

You are right that we are seeking certainty about the future. But the only certainty here is that you and your government have failed at every turn. And one letter is not going to change that.

Yours sincerely,

Natalie Fey & Simon Perks.

2 thoughts on “An open letter to the Prime Minister

  1. Simon, that really is so much nonsense! I speak to many EU citizens working happily in the UK and they have no fears for the future at all. They realise that the committed negotiation of the Prime Minister will protect their rights, they will be subject to UK law and will need to register to be able to obtain a UK passport, avail themselves of the services of the NHS and education for their children and qualify for a state pension and other benefits. Those here illegally will be exposed by this process and the majority of citizens paying U K taxes will not be too concerned at this outcome. I voted to remain but the majority voted to leave. We should take political point scoring off the agenda and allow our negotiators to get the best possible severance terms so that our nation cN go forward and prosper. x

    • Theresa, is that you?

      Seriously, Robin, while I value your opinion, I really must disagree. I likewise speak regularly with nationals of other EU member states currently living/working in the UK – not least the one to whom I am married – and many of them have considerable fears for their future and that of their families.

      There is little evidence that the Prime Minister and her government have any commitment in their negotiations to securing the rights of these individuals. And their efforts to deal with this particular issue so far have been marred by incompetence and a complete lack of compassion.

      While I agree with you that EU nationals (or, at least, those who qualify) could secure their own position post-Brexit by obtaining British citizenship, why should they have to? They live and work here, pay taxes here and, in many cases, have families here. They have already, in my mind, earned their right to stay.

      Freedom of movement has been, in my view, one of the main successes of the European Union. For us to go back to the idea of ‘Britain for the British’ is a retrograde step. And one that I could not countenance.

      If I had the slightest faith in our negotiating team, then perhaps I could be as relaxed about this as you are. But I don’t, so I’m not. And anyway, it’s my country, too. So I’ll continue to argue for what I think is right, regardless how many people disagree with me.

      That said, hope you and the family are all well.
      Good to hear from you.

      Simon.

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