Michael Steadman, Michael Bulley, Robert Vanderplank and Peter Millen on the difficulties facing British residents abroad, EU citizens in the UK, and employers in Britain
Last modified on Fri 18 Jun 2021 12.46 EDT
Your article highlighting the post-Brexit problems faced by British residents in France has a major omission (British nationals in France face losing rights if they miss residency deadline, 15 June). It is likely that a considerable number, between 3,000 and 6,000, stand to lose the right to drive as of the end of this year. This is because Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement made no provision for an exchange of licences between our two countries. The only option for these Brits, many of them elderly and in rural areas, will be compulsory driving tuition followed by a written and practical test – all in French, of course. Happily, this is not the outcome for citizens of over 150 other countries, including South Korea and Botswana, who have long since negotiated exchange agreements with France.
La Mailhoulié, Amarens, France
You have highlighted the difficulties that UK nationals living in France may face if they have not yet applied for post-Brexit residential status. In some areas, French public administration has a well-deserved reputation for obtuseness, but I have just received my residency card and I can attest to the sympathetic and helpful way the authorities have acted. It is as if they are embarrassed at having to make Britons, particularly ones who have lived in France for a long time, jump through these silly hoops. I certainly found it odd having to ask for permission to live in my own house.
Your article (Hundreds of thousands of EU citizens in UK risk uncertain status from 1 July, 16 June) misses out a crucial reason why many EU citizens aren’t applying for settled status. The advice on indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK on the government’s EU settled status website may lead older EU citizens to think they do not need to apply.
Many residents with ILR came to Britain as spouses of UK nationals decades ago and had their passports stamped with ILR on arrival. Although these passports will have expired, “indefinite” should mean “indefinite”, and an ILR stamp should retain its validity after the passport’s expiry. However, the rules on the validity of ILR stamps in expired passports was changed by the government in 2014; so, when it comes to employment (and applying for a mortgage, renting a flat etc), the current government guidance for employers is quite unequivocal: “A current passport endorsed to show that the holder is exempt from immigration control, is allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK, has the right of abode in the UK, or has no time limit on their stay in the UK.”
This issue may lead thousands of EU citizens unwittingly into the traps awaiting those who have not applied for settled status. It should be resolved quickly if we are to avoid yet another botched Home Office policy and subsequent scandal with high human costs.
Dr Robert Vanderplank
Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire
It would surely take a heart of stone not to laugh at Tim Martin’s plea to the government to introduce visas enabling more EU citizens to enter the UK to work (Number of EU citizens seeking work in UK falls 36% since Brexit, study shows, 17 June).
Tim ranked high among the snake-oil salesmen who flogged us Brexit, and I hope he has the grace to feel sheepish about his plea. Is it time for a quietly stated, ongoing “Brexit Watch” to be set up? By all means let it include the successes (prizes for spotting these, perhaps?) alongside the continual reminders of promises glibly given, implicitly believed, and never meant. We do need an antidote to the shrill and angry lie that “Brexit is done”. If only.
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