The Brexit storm gathers

GAZETTE MARCH 2017:

You can get a good idea of the issues that matter from my Friday and Monday advice “surgeries”.

Sometimes I have that “canary in the coalmine” moment when an issue is raised that clearly has huge significance but that no-one has picked up on yet, sometimes I hear the slow approach of a storm as people tell me of their concerns.

Just recently there have been an increasing number of people coming to see me with a very real fear that they will have to leave a country that, in many cases, their children were born in and in which they have lived, worked and paid taxes for years.

These are the European Union citizens who have been free to live and work in the UK since their countries joined the EU.

One of the effects of the referendum vote last June was the previously hidden horror that would mean the million plus UK citizens living in the EU having to return and the probably much larger number of EU citizens living in the UK being forced to leave if, as announced, the government invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty this month.

Large numbers of people – your neighbours and mine, those who work hard in our part of the world, those who play such a vital role in staffing our hospitals and those who willingly and efficiently do the jobs that we don’t seem to want to do – are already applying for permanent residency in the UK in order to protect their families, their children’s’ schooling and their employment but nearly 30% of these are rejected leaving a very real fear.

It now seems likely that the Conservative government will require five years continuous residence