To The Guardian
I have just read Brandon Lewis’s article (“The Home Office’s message to EU citizens living here: we want you to stay”) in respect of the need for us EU citizens living in the UK to apply for settled status, mainly to prove to the authorities that we have lived permanently in the UK for more than five years and are permitted to stay after Brexit.
I would dearly like to know what proof the authorities need from me, as someone who has lived in the UK since 1964, married a British citizen in 1968, and produced two quite intelligent and useful British citizens who in turn are contributing to society and are taxpayers?
The Home Office should really know me by now. I have a national insurance number, an NHS number and a British driving licence. I have a tax reference number because, believe me, I pay large sums to HMRC. I draw a UK state pension.
The information that I am still a German citizen (in my head, always an EU citizen) can be found in the electoral roll. Why, after all this, do I need to comply with a requirement to prove that I have existed in this country not merely for five, but for more than 55 years? Does this speak of incompetence by the Home Office, or rather a desire to belittle and humiliate EU citizens? That is certainly what it feels like.
Marlies Branston, Bedford. Sep 2019
Mr. Branston is one of thousands who, hopefully, will remain in the UK after Brexit, contributing to the country. Unfortunately, what the uninformed and emotional supporters of Brexit expect is that most “foreigners” will be despatched “ home”. Not only would this be cruel and crude but self-defeating. Britain heavily relies on smart, clever and hardworking people of foreign origin to do everything from scientific research, to fixing holes in roofs, to planning a better transport system for London. The Tory party have done such a lousy job with both education and health that there are insufficient trained people to do almost everything technical, from nursing to plumbing. One of the huge benefits of EU membership was the ability to attract ability. When and if the obscurantists (who want the country to be a mean little offshore home of the semi-ignorant) have their way there will be no one to repair the electrics in their houses or to teach mathematics. Just don’t later start bleating about it to the rest of us!
My declared intention to avoid politics never meant that I would stop protesting crass stupidity.