May must guarantee rights of EU citizens in UK, says Mansfield Principal

first_imgA report released this week by the House of Lords EU Justice sub-committee, chaired by Mansfield College Principal Helena Kennedy, states that the British government ought to unilaterally agree to respect the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK before the Brexit vote.The committee took evidence from a range of experts, EU ambassadors, overseas Brits and EU citizens, in order to establish whether EU citizens would hold any ‘acquired rights’ after Brexit. The report concluded, “The evidence we received makes very clear that the doctrine of acquired rights under public international law will provide little, if any, effective protection for former EU rights once the UK withdraws from the EU.”They have therefore advised that Theresa May has a “moral obligation” to make the first move in guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens who have lived in Britain since before the 23 June vote, irrespective of whether British citizens living in Europe are given the same protections. Baroness Kennedy QC said, “I also believe that such a gesture will stimulate reciprocal commitments from the other EU countries where UK citizens are currently living.“For the last six months, the lives of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU have been shrouded in anxiety. Their rights to live, work and reside in their country of choice are now so unclear that people have no idea how, or even where, they should plan their futures.”The committee further advised that the administrative burden of assessing individual cases would be “vast”, and therefore that a single status for all EU citizens in Britain before a certain point had to be established. Kennedy recommended in an interview with the Guardian that EU citizens living in the UK collect evidence of their residency. The Labour peer said, “Make a file now with proof of your presence [and] supporting letters from people who’ve known you, you have taught you or who you have had business dealings with.”Currently 2.9 million EU citizens live in the UK, while 2.1 million UK citizens live in Europe. The question of what will happen to them after Britain has left the EU has been of the most contentious debates arising from the Brexit vote.The government’s position is that no safeguards can be given without reciprocal agreements from EU member states, but this has led to accusations that people’s lives are being treated as “bargaining chips”. Baroness Kennedy QC is an eminent British barrister and Labour peer in the House of Lords.In 2010 she was elected as Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford. She had previously served as the Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and as President of the School of Oriental and African Studies.Mansfield College has been contacted for comment.last_img

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