I remember a public information advert shown in Scotland around fifteen years ago. It started with a guy looking to camera, I think he was Kurdish, and he spoke about his experiences of moving to Glasgow. He described his initial difficulties fitting in, and how, with time, he really felt at home in his new country.
As the advert ends, he is seen dropping his daughter off at the school gates while text fades onto the screen revealing that the words being spoken were actually written by a Scottish immigrant to Canada in the 1960s.
It was such a powerful way to show that there are common experiences for everyone moving to another country; the human stories of immigration.
Since Brexit that sense of common humanity is fast evaporating and the UK Government’s settled status scheme closes. By the time this column appears, the deadline will have passed for EU nationals to register. Anyone who missed that deadline will automatically lose their right to work, to rent their homes, or even to access healthcare.
That’s why I led a cross-party letter from over 50 MPs to the Prime Minister urging him to grant automatic settled status to all EU nationals living across these islands. After all, that was exactly the promise he made during the Brexit referendum.
In the letter I explained that it was vulnerable EU nationals who were most at risk of missing the deadline. That includes elderly, potentially confused, residents in care homes, as well as young folk who have been in the care system.
The government’s response arrived on 21st June. Not from the Prime Minister, but from a junior minister. He told me that no, there would be no automatic status given to EU nationals living in the UK – but, not to worry, the process is “simple”. Oh, and to put my mind at ease, if people miss the deadline they can make a late application provided they have undefined “reasonable grounds”.
That’s not the welcoming global Britain Tories like to brag about; it is the voice of a narrow-minded, closed-door little Englander.
EU nationals in Scotland are our friends, neighbours and many have joined our families. They were welcome and accepted as New Scots, yet the UK Government’s EU Settled Status Scheme has betrayed each and every one of us. However warm our welcome was, Boris Johnson has made liars of us all.
First published in the Fife Free Press.
The UK government extended the deadline for the EU Settled Status Scheme at the last minute. You can see more here.