Dear Theresa -
You suffered a humiliating defeat in the House of Lords on 1 March 2017 on the rights of EU citizens after Brexit. But you still stubbornly refuse to accept this. Instead, you cling to the irrational intention of using EU citizens' rights as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations.
Please stop thinking of EU citizens as bargaining chips. Why?
• Not because it's cruel - although it certainly is. The three million EU citizens living in the UK will be in limbo after Brexit.
• Not because it will harm the NHS - although it will. About 10% of registered doctors and 4% of registered nurses in the UK come from other EU countries. Their loss will seriously endanger the health of the nation.
• Not because it will harm the UK economy - although it will. Most EU nationals living in the UK are full-time workers and taxpayers. Their departure will leave a big hole in the Exchequer.
• Not because it will increase the incidence of hate crimes -- which have already escalated. In July 2016 police recorded a 41% increase in hate crimes compared to July 2015. Poles have been a particular target, but even families talking French or German in a supermarket have been verbally abused.
• And not even because it reveals the total incompetence of your government - although it does. A number of panicky EU citiizens who took the trouble to fill in the ludicrous 85-page UK permanent residence application got letters from the Home Office telling them to prepare to leave the UK -- although they have every right to remain here while Britain is in the EU.
British Expats in the EU are NOT in Danger
The reason why you should stop thinking of EU citizens as bargaining chips is simply that they aren't. - because most British expatriates living in the EU are not in danger. They are protected by EU law!
Home Secretary Amber Rudd compounded the usual "bargaining chip" error by writing to every single member of the House of Lords imploring them not to vote in favour of EU citizens' rights because "this will not help the situation of the thousands of our own citizens in the EU". This is just plain wrong.
All non-EU citizens who have lived legally in an EU country for more than five years enjoy the same treatment and rights as EU nationals in regard to the following:
• Self-employed work
• Vocational training
• Social protection
• Access to goods and services
These rights are guaranteed by the 2003 Directive on the status of non-EU nationals who are long-term residents in an EU country.
These are the minimum rights applicable to citizens of all non-EU countries in the world. But the citizens of 88 non-EU countries which have an agreement with the EU have even better rights - in fact, the same rights as the nationals of their EU host country. The list of these 88 countries includes Russia, Algeria, Albania - and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states. There is no reason why the UK can't join this group - except for the fact that neither you, Theresa, nor anybody in your government seems to be aware of this possibility!