New Inquiry to examine how Government can protect rights of EU citizens in UK

Posted on 16 August 2016

A call for evidence was issued today by a new Inquiry, chaired by Gisela Stuart MP, former Chair of the Vote Leave campaign, examining the practicalities of how the Government can protect the rights of the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit.

The Inquiry will meet in September and October 2016 and has cross-party, business and trade union support. The full Inquiry panel comprises: Gisela Stuart MP (Chair); Suella Fernandes MP; Suzanne Evans of UKIP; Kate Green MP; Fraser Nelson, Editor of the Spectator; Seamus Nevin of the Institute of Directors; Owen Tudor, TUC;  Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex; and Sunder Katwala, British Future.

It will report in autumn/winter 2016, setting out recommendations about how to resolve the status of EU nationals living in the UK.

ICM research for British Future finds that 84% of the British public supports letting EU migrants stay – including three-quarters (77%) of Leave voters – with any future changes to freedom of movement applying only to new migrants. The Government has stated that it anticipates that this will happen, though the delay in doing so is causing unnecessary anxiety for EU migrants and uncertainty for businesses that rely on their labour.

The Inquiry will start from the principled position that letting EU citizens stay in the UK is the right thing to do. Its aim will be to examine how to make this work in practice, and to make practical recommendations to the Government. Questions that it may consider could include:

  • The kind of legal status that EU citizens are granted, and whether that will apply to all EU citizens in the UK;
  • Managing cut-off dates for changes to the status of EU citizens in the UK;
  • Will there be an increase in migration to the UK ahead of the cut-off date and how can it be managed?
  • Healthcare and welfare rights;
  • How should EU citizens be required to prove their residency in the UK?

Gisela Stuart MP, who is chairing the Inquiry, said:

“There is wide agreement, among the public, politicians and business, that EU citizens are welcome here and that the Government should make clear they can stay.

“This is the right thing to do and what the Leave campaign promised all along.

“We must honour that promise and we should do it soon – it’s not right that people are left in limbo waiting to hear what their future holds.

“Once that happens – and I’m confident it will – there will then be a whole series of practical questions that need to be answered. What legal status people will people have? How do they prove eligibility to stay? When is the cut-off date and how do we manage any possible migration surge ahead of it?

“What this Inquiry sets out to do is consult people and organisations with expertise on these questions and make practical recommendations to the Government about how to resolve them swiftly and in everyone’s best interests.”

Those wishing to submit evidence to the Inquiry should contact British Future, the secretariat of the Inquiry, at

More information about the Inquiry can be found in the call for evidence.

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  • Comment by Chris Wallworth at 09:23 on 16.08.16

    Does the Inquiry also plan to address the forcible removal of EU citizenship from British Citizens who wish to remain citizens of the European Union after Brexit. Historically only totalitarian governments have deprived people of citizenship rights. Citizenship of the EU is a valuable right which I have no wish to give up. I am not eligible to apply for Irish citizenship, which is a route many people who had no wish to leave the EU are taking, so I am currently left in the hands of the Brexit negotiators. Will they take steps to secure continuing EU citizenship for the half of the population who wish to remain in the EU?

  • Comment by William Stewart at 10:10 on 16.08.16

    Who is going to look after the rights of UK citizens in EU, particularly state pensioners?

    Are our pensions going to be frozen?

    Will our rights to health care remain and be paid by UK?

    These are the most pressing questions and the biggest worry for pensioners.

    • Comment by A B at 14:13 on 16.08.16

      Maybe pensioners should have thought of that before voting leave?
      Our (eu migrants) futures are in jeopardy and we’re young people working and contributing.
      I have no sympathy for pensioners, you brought this on yourselves

      • Comment by Melanie Eskenazi at 14:20 on 16.08.16

        Reply to AB – How dare you. What makes you think that ‘pensioners’ voted to Leave? We did not, and we campaigned vigorously to encourage younger voters to vote to Remain – no easy task, given that most of them were disinclined. In fact – put this in your pipe & smoke it, as my Gran used to say – I know far more younger people who voted Leave, than I know ones who voted to remain!
        Also, what makes you think that just because you are working, you are somehow of greater value? I have worked here for 40 years, so what makes you imagine that I have no rights?

  • Comment by Ulrike Rowbottom at 10:59 on 16.08.16

    As an EU citizen living in the UK for the past 36 years, I have never bothered with British nationality, there simply had been no need. Times have changed, thanks to Brexit. As a gesture of goodwill towards EU citizens residing in Britain for more than 5 years (permanent residency applies thereafter, so legal status is protected as far as I know), will the Inquiry press for a waiver or reduction in application fees for British nationality for eligible EU residents? Applying for British nationality is a very expensive process and will put eligible EU residents out of pocket to the tune of +£1,200. In my opinion, those fees should be either waved entirely or substantially reduced; it merely serves to add insult to injury in light of brexit.

  • Comment by John Vincent at 12:26 on 16.08.16

    We all know this is about reciprication – do unto others as you would wish done unto you (There’s my latent Methodism). I’ve returned from having spent 11 years living in Cologne. While I was there I let my house out for a time to a Polish couple. It worked. EU or no EU each member state is slightly different. In Germany registration is mandatory. UK should look at their system.
    You need to look at tax and pensions too. Double taxation should be avioded.
    Cut off dates are crazy. Just imagine a start up company or a HQ move who’s caught in the middle of such a deadline.
    Remember mobile workers – airline staff, truckers and alike as they dont fit in nice neat boxes.

  • Comment by Errietta Kostala at 14:09 on 16.08.16

    As an EU migrant I believe the current rules will have to be changed if the government wants all of us to remain ‘legal’. I will have been here five years in September 2017, however only one of those years would count towards getting permanent residency. Why? Because 4 of those years I was a student and didn’t have the “comprehensive health insurance” that the government requires in order for students’, entrepreneurs’, and self sufficient persons to apply for PR. The same rules will put many small business owners, home makers, etc. in a disadvantage – nobody told us we needed to have health insurance when we entered the UK or used the NHS, so it was a shock to suddenly figure out for many of us. Bottom line you can’t just say that “those with PR can stay”.. Even if you could it would take 140 years for everyone to get PR!

  • Comment by Melanie Eskenai at 14:15 on 16.08.16

    What about BRITISH PEOPLE LIVING IN EUROPE? There are hundreds of thousands of UK subjects living in France, Spain etc – what about them? This is NOT just a one – direction issue, as you seem to think!

    Many of these people have paid into the UK system via Tax and NI, for 40 years – are they now to be cast to the winds?

    This is not an issue for Europe, but for the UK: maybe you do not know this, but UK subjects resident in France, have their Health Care paid for by the UK, as is their absolute, perfect right after having paid to the UK for decades. What is to happen to that right?

  • Comment by Linda L at 15:34 on 16.08.16

    I also agree with Chris Wallworth. I would very much like to retain my European citizenship after Brexit. I feel it is something that we have worked hard for over the years and there is a real sense of personal loss. I feel like my nationality is being stripped from me.

  • Comment by Susan Young at 17:23 on 16.08.16

    I wholeheartedly agree that it us unfair that ‘people are left in limbo waiting to hear what their future holds’ The same statement could also be made for UK citizens living in the EU but no-one seems to be falling over themselves to help them. Imagine if all of them had to return to the UK-the effect on the NHS, benefits and housing would be catastrophic. Please could someone start an inquiry to see what will happen to them and how to help them. I won’t hold my breath about this however.

  • Comment by eusebio manuel vestias pecurto at 17:42 on 16.08.16

    Obviously brexit must complete before the next round of EU faster they invoke Article 50 Best will we have a new PM in the UK September they will have to make every effort to have the new PM and trigger Article 50 and begin negotiations

    • Comment by linda lee at 22:44 on 16.08.16

      Brexit DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN. The referendum was advisory only. ARTICLE 50 DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SIGNED. UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK must have proper reassurances and essential respite from all of this unnecessary anxiety particularly regarding healthcare which is a priority for everyone. The increasing stress will soon cause extra health issues and burdens I fear. Let us not be duped any further Brexit is an illegal,mendacious,dangerous and totally damaging nonsene.

  • Comment by Mike Vessey at 22:35 on 16.08.16

    How on earth can Gisela Stuart chai this inquiry? This is a woman who only a few weeks ago co-chaired the most hateful, xenophobic and disgraceful political campaign this country has ever seen. Have you forgotten the lies and scare stories re Turkey joining, the hoardes about to flood to the UK? Her Vote Leave campaign peddled fear and lies. Many EU nationals living here – my partner and friends – feel insulted by her actions. That any self respecting think tank can appoint someone such as Stuart is beyond comprehension. You might as well put Jimmy Saville in charge of the inquiry into child abuse – it’s that disgraceful. She should be sacked immediately.

  • Comment by Mike Eden at 08:11 on 17.08.16

    Having contributed to the system for 50 years of my life and now living in Italy I expect all my existing rights to be retained, just as I expect the rights of any Italians living in the UK to be retained. As has been stated, the referendum was purely advisory and in reality the closeness of the vote itself suggests it is not as democratic as first claimed. We now have a government pursuing matters with indecent haste,an unelected prime minister, bail outs from most of the protagonists for leave, which makes me think it was all carefully plotted to get the UK out of the EU. If our new unelected prime minister has any morals she will at least let parliament debate and decide whether to pull out.

  • Comment by Stephan Hollingshead at 16:26 on 18.08.16

    Gisela Stuart through her actions in promoting dishonest statements about migrants and immigration is not fit to hold the post of chair or any position.

  • Comment by Helen McInnes at 16:51 on 18.08.16

    Gisela Stuart’s dismissive attitude towards EU citizens living in the UK mean she’s not fit to chair this enquiry. She should be replaced.

  • Comment by Robboc at 22:13 on 18.08.16

    I have every confidence in Gisela Stuart in her new role. As a national of one EU member who took up her right to live in another EU state, I believe she will have a useful perspective on this issue. What I cannot understand, however, is how the rights of EU citizens in Britain can somehow be torn apart from its siamese twin issue – the rights of UK citizens in the EU – and examined separately. I moved to France when it was my perfectly legal right to so and now, with the UK leaving the EU, I am concerned that my past NI contributions might stop funding my healthcare here in France (through the S1 system), and that by not having an S1 in the future, French Social Charges (which work like NI contributions) will be payable on my pension. If those things happen, they will cost me over 15% of my income. Couple that with the (current) 15% loss of value of the pound, and the UK’s vote to leave the EU will take away almost a third of my income. Please, please can the scope of this enquiry’s work be expanded to cover the situation of BOTH EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU. Thank you for listening.

  • Comment by Fiona Smythe at 11:56 on 21.08.16

    The membership of this panel does not inspire confidence, especially the chair.

  • Comment by Dan Dennis at 15:03 on 12.12.16

    Would you grant the right to stay and claim benefits, NHS care etc to *every* EU citizen? Including those who have come here and never worked, or only worked a few hours part-time? If so then you are giving them, over the course of their lifetimes, several hundred thousand each (do the maths). They have contributed little or nothing to the country, why should UK taxpayers have to pay tax to support them?

    Obviously the government will give young hard working people the right to stay. It is the difficult cases which are interesting.