Lambeth Labour puts rights of EU nationals at the heart of its manifesto

EU resident manifesto

This past weekend, Lambeth Labour’s manifesto for the council elections was launched by Mayor Sadiq Khan, Chuka Umunna MP, Florence Eshalomi AM and Cllr Lib Peck. The manifesto puts the rights of Lambeth’s EU Citizens at its heart:

Fighting for the rights of EU citizens: We’re proud that 79% of Lambeth residents voted to remain in the European Union. We’ve lobbied the government to protect the rights of over 30,000 European citizens in Lambeth. Our friends and neighbours shouldn’t be treated as a bargaining chip – but sadly the Conservatives both nationally and locally refuse to support a guarantee of their rights.

A re-elected Labour council will continue fighting against the Conservative government’s disastrous Hard Brexit.

We’ll fight for the rights of EU citizens, and membership of the single market and customs union.

As this notes, Lambeth is home to over 30,000 EU citizens, other than UK and Irish citizens, and 1 in 8 of residents in Brixton Hill are EU citizens, including many of Lambeth’s important Portuguese community and Latin Americans who hold Spanish passports.

At a recent Lambeth Council meeting, Brixton Hill councillor Martin Tiedemann was one of the Labour councillors proposing a motion to protect EU Nationals. In his speech he spoke of the uncertainty still faced by many residents as Brexit is unveiled, including his own father, a German National who has lived in the UK for almost fifty years yet faces an uncertain and expensive future.

The full text of the Lambeth motion, which passed despite Tories refusing to vote for it, is as follows:

Council notes:

  • Lambeth is proud to be home to tens of thousands of people from all over the European Union (EU) and beyond
  • People from Portugal, Spain, Poland, France, and many other EU countries, make a huge contribution to running our public services and adding to our economic, social and cultural wealth.
  • That there are thousands of residents born in the borough who also now live or work regularly in other EU countries.

Council is concerned that:

  • Since the UK voted to leave the EU, the Government has repeatedly refused to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, including the tens of thousands of EU nationals in Lambeth.
  • The current Tory Government plans include the compulsory fingerprinting of all EU nationals and the charging of a large fee for documentation, even for those who lived here for more than five years.
  • The effects of the Government’s failure to give EU nationals assurances about their future is already having an impact on the country’s public services. For example, research from the Nursing and Midwifery Council shows that the number of nurses from the EU registering to work in the UK has dropped by 96% less than a year after the UK voted to leave the EU.
  • The current uncertainty is also unsettling for local businesses in the borough and puts at risk the strong job creation and business growth seen in recent years that has been supported by Lambeth council.
  • Lambeth residents who work or have family living in the EU countries are becoming increasingly worried that the government’s mishandling of the Brexit talks could have a negative impact on them or their family.

This council resolves to:

  • Continue to make representations to urge Government to stop playing politics with the lives of EU citizens currently living in the UK and those British citizens living abroad by immediately guaranteeing the right of residency.
  • Continue to work with partners, the voluntary and community sectors to co-ordinate practical support for EU nationals who want to remain in Lambeth.
  • Do all it can to oppose the ending of free movement of EU nationals.
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