Jeremy Corbyn blasts Government for ‘Hunger Games approach' to EU nationals' rights
Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Government of “playing political games with people’s lives”, after a Brussels report highlighting the uncertainty over residency rights for EU and UK citizens post-Brexit.
The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee said Theresa May’s refusal to guarantee the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK after Brexit could result in the other 27 member states taking a harder approach against Britons living in their countries.
“The fact that it appears to be particularly different for foreign nationals, even if married to UK nationals or born in the UK, to acquire permanent residence status or British nationality may colour member states’ approach to this matter,” the report, which was leaked to the Guardian, said.
Applications for British residency rights are said to have jumped by 50% as a result of European nationals' living in the UK fearing for their future.
Mr Corbyn said the Government was “playing political games with people’s lives”, that the approach of ministers on the issue highlights “the human cost of a Tory-style Brexit”, and that “families, jobs and homes are all in the balance”.
The Labour leader added: “There must be an end to this Hunger Games approach to Brexit negotiations, which gives no consideration to EU nationals in our country or British nationals living abroad.”
The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said Mrs May was “playing with fire”.
He added: “This issue could have been settled from the start if the Government had done the right thing and made clear EU citizens who have made the UK their home can remain indefinitely.
“Instead, millions of people on both sides of the channel are being left in limbo and faced with agonising uncertainty over their futures. Antagonising our European partners is no way to get a good deal for Britain and for the many UK citizens living in EU countries.”
Mrs May has said reaching a reciprocal agreement with the EU on citizens’ rights will be a priority for her once Article 50 has been triggered, but she has resisted pressure to make a unilateral declaration that EU nationals will be allowed to stay in the UK on the same terms.