3 July 2016

‘Let EU migrants stay’ say the British public, plus voices from business and politics

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EU passportsThe Government and nominees to be the next Conservative Leader faced new pressure today to make a clear and unequivocal statement to reassure the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK that they would be able to stay after Brexit, and that a similar deal would be pursued to protect the status of the 1.2 million British citizens living in other EU countries.

New research from ICM for British Future finds that 84% of the British public supports letting EU migrants stay – including three-quarters (77%) of Leave voters. Among Conservatives, support for protecting the status of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in Europe is even higher at 85%, with 78% of UKIP supporters in agreement.

Just 16% of the public think that EU citizens should be required to leave the UK and that UK citizens in Europe should return home, with 23% of Leave voters and 15% of Conservatives agreeing.

A joint letter published in the Sunday Telegraph today, signed by politicians of different parties and from across the Leave and Remain divide, as well as business, NGO and academic voices, calls on the Government and politicians of all parties and on both sides of the referendum debate “to make a clear and unequivocal statement that EU migrants currently living in the UK are welcome here and that post-referendum changes would apply only to new migrants.”

That call is supported by prominent pro-Leave politicians including Daniel Hannan MEP, Labour’s Gisela Stuart MP and UKIP MP Douglas Carswell and Conservative Peter Lilley, alongside former Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who campaigned for Remain. They come together on this issue with the Institute of Directors, the TUC and a range of industry bodies casinoluck. The migration thinktank Migration Watch, which seeks cuts to future immigration, is also backing the call to protect EU migrants in the UK and British citizens living overseas, alongside the groups Migrant Voice and New Europeans, who report that the uncertainty is creating real and avoidable anxiety for their members who are directly affected.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also called for “immediate guarantees” to EU nationals in Scotland while Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has made a similar call for a clear commitment to EU nationals in the UK, adding to the cross-party calls for the government to act.

A Change.org petition is also calling for a similarly reassuring statement from the Government and politicians of all parties.

The full text of the joint letter and its signatories is as follows:


The British public’s decision to leave the EU will bring many changes, most likely including changes to immigration and free movement rules.

There is considerable anxiety for the 3 million EU citizens who have made their homes in the UK, and the 1.2 million British citizens living in other EU countries. The Prime Minister’s post-referendum statement that there would be ‘no immediate changes’ to their status will have been less than fully reassuring.

This is also a vital concern for many British businesses and public services employing EU nationals, who do not want retrospective disruption to their existing workforce at a time of economic uncertainty. 

We would urge the Government, opposition parties and every candidate standing to be the next Conservative Party Leader and hence Prime Minister, to make a clear and unequivocal statement that EU migrants currently living in the UK are welcome here and that post-referendum changes would apply only to new migrants.

A clear, public commitment to protect the status of EU migrants was made by the official Vote Leave campaign – and it is important that is honoured.

By adopting this policy, the UK puts itself in a strong position to seek a clear reciprocal commitment from other EU members that EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in other EU countries should be able to continue to live and work in those countries.

We believe there are principled, practical and legal reasons why this would be the only sensible and decent policy now that Britain has voted to Leave the EU. New research also shows a very strong consensus across both Remain and Leave voters in support of this approach.

It would also send a clear statement to the extreme minority, who now appear to believe they have licence to attack and harass migrants and minorities, that the British public finds their views repugnant and unwelcome in our society.


Gisela Stuart MP

Douglas Carswell MP

Yvette Cooper MP

Peter Lilley MP

Daniel Hannan MEP

Simon Walker, Director, Institute of Directors

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC

Julian David, CEO, techUK

Ian Wright CBE, Director-General, Food and Drink Federation

Professor Sir Cary Cooper, CBE, President of Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive, Universities UK

Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive, British Hospitality Association

Carol Paris, Chief Executive, Horticultural Trades Association

Sam Bowman, Executive Director, Adam Smith Institute

Roland Smith, Fellow, Adam Smith Institute

Ryan Shorthouse, Director, Bright Blue

Sunder Katwala, Director, British Future

Tom Kibasi, Director, IPPR

Nazek Ramadan, Migrant Voice

Saira Grant, Chief Executive, JCWI

Alp Mehmet, Vice-Chair, Migration Watch

Mark Stears, New Economics Foundation

Roger Casale, New Europeans

Stephen Booth, co-Director, Open Europe

David Goodhart, Policy Exchange

Matthew Elliott, Director, Vote Leave

Toby Young, journalist

Professor Catherine Barnard, University of Cambridge

Professor Tamara Harvey, University of Sheffield

Professor Simon Hix FBA, London School of Economics and Political Science

Professor Anand Menon, Kings College, London

Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex

Jonathan Portes, Principal Research Fellow, National Institute of Economic and Social Research

Professor Jo Shaw, Edinburgh Law School


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