Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about how Islington Labour is keeping up the pressure on Government to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in Islington
Today, MPs are continuing their debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, signalling the beginning of talks in Parliament about what the UK might look like after the EU. Unfortunately, yet again with this Tory Government, there is very little detail and people are being left in the dark.
I am particularly concerned that the Bill does not mention EU nationals currently living in the UK and what their rights might be after Brexit. The EU nationals living and working in Islington, an estimated 30,000 of them, are our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. They form not only a significant part of our population but also our identity.
EU nationals’ contribution is vital to all aspects of UK life, from our public services to our small business community. Islington is fiercely proud of its identity as a diverse and welcoming borough that is home to people from across the world.
Islington Labour campaigned hard to remain in the EU and a record number of people turned out to vote in Islington – 75% of whom voted to ‘remain’. Many of us were heartbroken that the UK as a whole voted the other way but believe we have to accept to result. This does not mean however that the government can engage in scapegoating in their ever increasingly desperate attempts to hold on to power.
The only indication we have had from the government is a draft Home Office document that was leaked last week, which suggests the Government is determined to keep out EU citizens and even split up families. It refers to valued members of our community in terms like “Type and Volume”. It has rightly been slammed as economically mad and socially divisive.
We will not let politics be played with EU nationals’ lives and have been repeatedly calling on Government to guarantee the status of EU nationals post-Brexit, which they have had many opportunities to do.
In June, the Council also passed a motion resolving that we would continue to keep up the pressure on Government and work with our partners and the voluntary sector to co-ordinate practical support for EU nationals who want to remain in Islington.
As part of this, I recently spoke at a legal advice event, jointly organised by the Council, Islington in Europe and expert immigration solicitors, which offered support and advice to EU nationals in Islington about their options for remaining in the UK. It was genuinely one of the most important events I have attended as a councillor. Due to the level of demand we will be holding another session in November.
The battle is not lost. With millions railing against them and the global community shocked by the arrogance of a Government that falsely believes it is above scrutiny, I believe we will start to see a shift behind all that posturing.
Islington Labour is on the side of its residents, including EU citizens, and we will continue to make our support and demands for them loud and clear.
Pictured - Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, Islington Council