EU citizens living in the UK 'left in limbo' after Brexit, says former co-chair of Vote Leave Gisela Stuart

Ms Stuart says the government should make it clear that EU citizens will be allowed to stay

Tuesday 16 August 2016 15:38 BST
Gisela Stuart MP
Gisela Stuart MP (Wikimedia Commons)

A leading Brexit campaigner has called on the Government to guarantee by Christmas the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.

Gisela Stuart MP said politicians had to be “humane”, as she helped found a new think tank to explore how best to protect the rights of 3.5 million EU nationals in the UK.

Speaking to the BBC, the Labour MP said the research project aimed to help the Government form plans to achieve the goal.

Asked if she wanted ministers to guarantee rights by Christmas, she said: “Yes.”

Ms Stuart added: “One of the duties of politicians is also to be humane.

“When we deal with people’s lives, I think, to show that we are open, that we are a welcoming country, that we simply decided to leave an institution called the European Union, that doesn’t mean that we are ignoring people’s rights.”

EU citizens living in the UK have been “left in limbo” since the referendum, according to one of the senior figures for the Leave campaign during the EU referendum.

Gisela Stuart is to head up a cross-party inquiry for the think tank British Future on how to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.

Ms Stuart said the Government should make it clear that EU citizens will be allowed to stay and that it was the “right thing to do”.

Speaking to The Independent, Ms Stuart said: “We are dealing with people’s lives. It is important we get it right.

“There is a tremendous political will to get the right outcome on this and be helpful to the government. I hope this will be a priority for the Government.”

The Labour MP also added she believes that EU citizens are welcome in the UK.

"There is wide agreement, among the public, politicians and business, that EU citizens are welcome here," she told the BBC.

The former co-chair of the Vote Leave campaign said she was "confident" the government would guarantee EU nationals status and that it was what the campaign had promised all along,

The inquiry is set to publish its findings in the autumn and will also look at EU citizens’ welfare and healthcare rights in the UK.

Steve Ballinger, director of communications for British Future spoke to The Independent about the inquiry: "EU migrants need reassurance about their future in the UK. Making clear that they are welcome here would send a message about the kind of country Britain wants to be after Brexit.

"Sorting out the status of 3.5 million people will, however, throw up a raft of questions - about rights, residency, cut-off dates and access to services, for instance.

"What this new inquiry seeks to do is consult interested parties and those with expertise to help find practical solutions and make recommendations to the Government."

So far the Government has indicated a desire to protect EU citizens’ living in the UK if Britons living in Europe are treated similarly.

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