There are three million EU born citizens living in the UK - many of them worried as to whether they will be able to stay, work or study, come the day we exit.
Having been born in Germany, I thought I'd better tackle the 84 page application form by which EU nationals have their UK residency status confirmed. It's a pretty challenging exercise, the first shock being the demand to produce at least two documents for each of the last five years' residence, together with proof of employment over that period (I trust House of Lords attendance counts, as I don't formally 'work'). Or I can show I have sufficient financial resources to stay - via itemised bank statements (now where did I put those?) as I don't have wage slips. And proof of comprehensive sickness insurance (Ok, because I have a National Insurance number).
If however, those bank statements don't show up, I could apply via Section 10, with my husband as a sponsor. Although, he also has to show he's been working - and how much he's earned. He's retired, so trust his pension will suffice. But we also have to show we've both been living here - such as via utility bills. Hope he's been keeping all of those somewhere, as I haven't!
More questions follow, including demonstrating I've integrated into the country. Extraordinarily, the first item of proof suggested is a mortgage: clearly the definition of a good British citizen. Then I need to show I can speak English - so fears of an exam. But realise my PhD might suffice. And membership of a group? Easy one that: Labour Party cards carefully stored, going all the way back to 1970.
Then it gets personal. If I apply via my husband, I have to produce ten to 15 items, from four or five different sources, over five years to show full residence. Telephone bills, holiday photos (these will amuse the checkers), hospital appointments (funny - I thought the government was against medical tourism). Oh, and his divorce papers, as I'm not the first Mrs Caplin.
My marriage certificate is easy - it's framed. But that won't do, as they need the original and I'm not going to break the glass. I also have to declare where and when I met him and when the relationship began (better not admit it was the same date), when we started living together (that was NOT the same date) - and when I decided to marry him. Should I confess it was the day I met him, as he doesn't know that? He thinks he persuaded me.
The questions go on and are very complicated. My PhD might prove my language skills but has not equipped me for this application form.
Presumably, many of our EU residents are busy completing this challenge even as I write. The government however, really does need to act on this. Not simply over whether they will extend residency rights to those already here, or who were here on 23 June. But to clarify how long they would have needed to be here and whether they will have to prove all this residency, work, holidays and income requirements, as currently demanded.
I'm much relieved, 80 pages into the form, to know that because I was born in a British Military Hospital in Germany (thanks Mum!), I can cast this away as I was effectively born on UK soil and a citizen by birth. Others will have to apply, and - unless the government changes the rules - prove they have private health insurance if not covered some other way.
Baroness Dianne Hayter of Kentish Town is Shadow Brexit Minister in the House of LordsSuggest a correction