This week we had the confusing information from the Home Secretary that free movement will end on 31 October, in the event of the UK leaving the EU with no withdrawal agreement. However, the government has also stated that the deadline is still December 2020 for EU citizens currently living in the UK legally to apply for settled status to remain. This can potentially create uncertainty and therefore I am writing this to all people living in Bristol West who may be worried about their own position or that of a friend or family member or colleague.
We also learned that many businesses who currently trade within and between other EU countries have not applied for the relevant customs status in order to operate after any departure. I do not want us to leave the EU, but I also want to help businesses to protect their ability to trade and provide jobs. As the current Prime Minister is not ruling out us leaving without any agreement, it is vital that businesses prepare.
As always, I want to know if you are experiencing problems, or if there are risks for you or your business associated with us leaving the EU, what they are. This directly influences how I represent Bristol West in Parliament. Please share this information.
The process of applying for settled status
The Government launched the EU Settlement process in April. It is free to apply and is for all EU, EEA or family members of EU and EEA citizens.
You can apply for either settled status if you have been in the UK for 5 years or pre-settled status if you have been in the UK for less than 5 years.
Once you have been awarded status, authorities such as border control will be able to confirm this easily on line.
You can find details of who needs to apply, what you will need to be able to apply and start the actual process on this website: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families
I urge everyone who thinks they might be affected to look at the information on the Government site in the first instance.
Businesses and customs
Whether you are exporting or importing goods, services or parts from other EU countries, or have EU employees, or trade with another company who does, you are going to be affected by the UK’s departure from the EU, particularly if we leave on 31st October with no withdrawal agreement in place. This is not what I want for you, I want you to have a stable environment in which to trade and plan future trade. However, as this is a possibility, I do want you to have information to help you prepare.
There is a government checklist about how Brexit might affect your business here. This asks seven questions and then links you to the relevant guidance.
This is a link to a page where you can choose specific topics and sign up for regular updates.
This is a checklist specifically for you if you EXPORT to other EU countries.
This is a checklist specifically for you if you IMPORT from other EU countries.
This is a checklist specifically for you if you provide SERVICES to clients within other EU countries.
If you have staff from other EU countries, you may want to encourage them to secure their settled status. You can link them to information about this process here.
What you can expect from me – casework support
If you are applying for settled status, or if you are running a business which operates within Bristol West or you live in Bristol West even if your business is elsewhere, and you experience difficulties or delays with any application process you have to make as a result of the possible departure from the EU without an agreement, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org including any case reference number and I will see what I can do to help.
What you can expect from me – campaigning
I am opposed to us leaving the EU in all circumstances but especially leaving with no agreement and no arrangements for an interim transition period. As we know from the Windrush scandal, the Home Office can cause huge problems when it changes the rules and doesn’t help people who have been living here entirely legally to make the changes to their status.
I have spoken out about this treatment of EU citizens many times in Parliament and will continue to. I am also concerned about the rights of UK citizens living and working in other EU countries.
I will continue to fight to prevent us from leaving the EU with no agreement and for there to be a public confirmatory vote on whether to accept any withdrawal agreement, to leave with no agreement, or remain in the EU. In such a public vote, I would campaign strongly for us to remain in the EU as I did last time, because I believe it is the best relationship for us to have with our neighbours.
You can find more about what I have been doing on the UK’s relationship with the EU here.