As someone who’s lived in Britain my whole adult life, paid my taxes and never taken a penny in benefits, Theresa May's e-mail is nothing short of insultingby Jessica Furseth / November 9, 2017 / Leave a comment
As a European living in Brexit Britain, there’s not much I can do when these missives arrive from Theresa May. “Safeguarding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in Europe is the first priority for [Brexit] negotiations,” said the last one, sent by the Home Office to everyone who signed up for notifications about what the hell is happening with our rights to stay.
“First priority”! I could practically hear the collective groan from the millions of people who know from personal experience over the past 18 months that this really isn’t true. I want to stay in the country that’s been my home for 17 years, but this isn’t what being “first priority” looks like—I’ve known that since 23rd June last year.
It’s jarring to read these emails proclaiming that the Prime Minister cares. Last month, Theresa May signed the email herself: “When we started this process, some accused us of treating EU nationals as bargaining chips. Nothing could have been further from the truth,” she wrote. “I have been clear throughout this process that citizens’ rights are my first priority.” There it is again: “first priority.” And “clear”? This was the first time in the 483 days since the vote that May had said a word about it.
That silence left ample room for fear and confusion to brew. The vast majority of the 3.2 million Europeans in Britain, and the 1.2 million Brits in Europe, have taken a “wait and see” approach, hoping good sense would win out. We figure it makes little sense for the government to chuck us all—if for no reason other than the fact that EU migrants have paid £20 billion more into the system over the past decade than we took out.
But logic has never been the rationale behind Brexit, and as negotiations have progressed along with threats of walking away with “no deal,” it seems foolish to assume anything. I might be able to accept Theresa May’s claims to care about my fate had the Government been neutral on the issue, but they’ve been actively hostile—to the point that their claim that we’re now “first priority” just adds insult to injury.
What’s actually been happening since June 2016 is…