Monday, December 19, 2016

May urged to agree EU citizens' stay in Britain after Brexit

The leaders of Britain's biggest trade union and business organisation sent a joint letter on Sunday to British Prime Minister Theresa May, calling for a unilateral move to agree EU migrants' stay in the country after Brexit.

In the open letter signed by union chief Frances O'Grady of the Trade Union Congress and Adam Marshall, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, the two leaders called on May to end the uncertainty for businesses and millions of workers by confirming that the government will give current EU migrants a right to stay in Britain after Brexit.

In what was described as a "bold unilateral move," the commitment urged by the two leaders was explained as "both morally right and also in the interests of the British economy."

They also believe that it will send a signal of goodwill to the EU, which will benefit Britain's negotiating position.

"It's the right thing to do. But it's also about what is right for Britain too. Continued doubt about the status of workers from the rest of the EU is bad for business, and it puts services like the NHS at risk," said O'Grady.

Marshall holds similar worries, saying that "Business communities across the UK are deeply frustrated that ministers have declined to guarantee the residence rights of their EU employees and colleagues. Some firms are already losing key members of staff due to this avoidable uncertainty."

He also urged for a quick move to ease the anxiety.

"Such a move before the start of a complex Brexit negotiation would be bold, but it is the right thing to do for the individuals affected, for the businesses that employ them, and for the economy as a whole," said Marshall.

The two leaders urged the government in the letter to give an unequivocal commitment that EU citizens working in the country will have a permanent right to remain in the UK.

The publication of the letter coincides with International Migrants Day, which is marked on every anniversary of the UN's adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families on Dec. 18, 1990.

But the government has so far refused to issue guarantees, saying what happens to EU nationals will depend on what happens to the millions of British people currently living or working in the other 27 EU member countries.

Meanwhile The Scottish government is preparing to publish on Tuesday its proposals for Scotland's future relationship with the EU after Brexit.

A paper titled "Scotland's place in Europe" will be published on Tuesday.

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