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LibDems warn almost 800 Wealden residents are now 'in limbo'

May 22, 2020 4:54 PM

Sussex For Europe & Wealden LibDems in Westminster Sept 4 2019Around 800 EU nationals living in Wealden are still waiting to learn whether they can stay here or not, according to figures unearthed by the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for all EU citizens already residing here to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, as new official figures show that 790 EU nationals living in the Wealden District Council area have not been granted permanent 'Settled Status' to remain here.

Wealden Liberal Democrat campaigner and Sussex For Europe activist Elizabeth Drury said: "Too many EU nationals in Wealden are deeply anxious about their right to stay. With the uncertainty of Brexit, it's disgraceful to leave them in legal limbo like this, and it's even worse in some of our neighbouring areas.

"Families and children must not be made to live under a cloud of uncertainty any longer. The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for EU citizens - and the UK's institutions that rely on workers from the EU, like the NHS and social care - by fighting to guarantee their rights to live and work in the UK."

The Lib Dems' figures come just days after the European Commission began legal proceedings against the UK for breaking the terms of the Brexit transition agreement. Between 31 January and 31 December 2020, EU nationals are allowed certain rights in the UK that the Commission says the British government is unreasonably limiting.

Of the 2,310 EU nationals across Wealden who have applied for permanent residency, only 1,510 have been granted Settled Status. Some 140 EU nationals in Wealden have applied to the Home Office scheme but are still waiting for a final decision. Another 650 have been given only temporary 'Pre-Settled Status', meaning they will have to reapply within five years or be forced to leave the UK.

The Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support for their campaign to give all health and social care workers on the frontline of this crisis indefinite leave to remain and not just the one-year visa extension offered to certain health and care staff by the Home Office.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said: "The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. NHS staff, social care workers and other health professionals are putting themselves in harm's way every day to keep us safe. The government has a chance to show its own support for the people's heroes by extending the right to remain to all EU and foreign nationals, many of whom are fighting for our lives during the Covid-19 pandemic."