“It’s far too little and it’s far too late” was the message from the Liberal Democrats in Europe when they heard about the government’s commitments to European citizens announced in the Queen’s speech. It’s not just about EU citizens living in the UK, it’s also about UK citizens living in Europe. Since the referendum result, the five million EU/UK citizens living in each others’ countries have been treated like pawns on a chessboard - to be sacrificed to the “greater good”. That’s not the message that was given during the campaign by many now in government who promised that EU citizens’ rights would be protected.
Jo Swinson, the LibDem leader, answering the Gracious Speech pointed out that while many EU citizens had been living and working in the UK for many years they, like many others before them, are experiencing significant challenges, in proving that they are “settled” in Britain. She called on the Prime Minister to apologise for the miserable way that they are being treated.
The British government still fails to take into account that its treatment of European citizens will be mirrored by the treatment of UK citizens in Europe. Some countries have already started putting registration systems in place - often involving extra fees. Other countries seem to be waiting to see how their own citizens fare in Britain. At least there will in future be an appeal system in Britain to rectify some of the horrific decisions that are currently being incorrectly made.As Jo said “There is no form of Brexit that will be good for our country. And the Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to stop Brexit and secure a People’s Vote with the option to remain in the European Union to give the public the final say on Brexit deal”. Jo concluded by confirming that the Liberal Democrats will not be voting for the speech.