The Liberal Democrats are calling for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, as new official figures show 3,000 EU nationals living in the Canterbury district have not been granted permanent Settled Status to remain in the UK.

Pointing to the contribution of EU nationals working in the NHS during the Covid-19 crisis, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine urged the Government to “show its own support for the people’s heroes by extending the right to remain to all EU and foreign nationals, many of whom are fighting for our lives.”

Of the 5,600 EU nationals across the Canterbury district who have applied for permanent residency, only 2,560 have been granted settled status.

510 EU nationals living in Canterbury have applied to the Home Office scheme but are still waiting for a final decision to be made. Another 2,490 have been given only temporary Pre-Settled Status, meaning they will have to reapply within five years or be forced to leave the UK.

Although the Home Office has announced a one-year visa extensions for certain health and care staff, the Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support for their campaign to give all health and social care workers on the frontline of this crisis indefinite leave to remain.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. NHS staff, social care workers and other health professionals are putting themselves in harm’s way each and every day to keep us safe.

“The Government has a chance to show its own support for the people’s heroes by extending the right to remain to all EU and foreign nationals, many of whom are fighting for our lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Alex Lister for Canterbury added:

“Too many EU nationals in Canterbury are deeply anxious about their right to stay. With the uncertainty of Brexit, it’s disgraceful to leave them in legal limbo like this.

“Families and children must not be made to live under a cloud of uncertainty any longer. The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for EU citizens by fighting to guarantee their rights to live and work in the UK.”

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Written by Alex Lister

Alex grew up in Canterbury. He is a governor of the NHS trust running the hospitals in Canterbury, Ashford, Margate and he is vice chair of the local Liberal Democrat Party.

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