The Prime Minister has been clear that she wants to protect the status of EU nationals here. The only circumstances in which that would not be possible are, as I have already said, if British citizens’ rights in other EU member states were not protected in return.
In the two months since the EU referendum, the EU citizens in my constituency have become increasingly anxious. They literally lie awake at night wondering whether they will still be able to call my constituency their home. Will the Home Secretary do the decent thing and guarantee that no EU citizens will be used as bargaining chips in the forthcoming negotiations following the triggering of article 50?
I repeat again that there is no change in the status of EU nationals living and working in the UK. The issue is not simply about the immigration status of an individual; EU citizens’ rights are far broader than just the right to reside in the UK. The right to work, entitlement to benefits and pensions, the rights of access to public services and the ability to be joined by family members from countries outside the EU all need to be discussed.
I hope I have already made that clear, but I recognise that EU citizens make an invaluable contribution to our economy, our society and our daily lives. They provide vital services, including in the NHS, where almost one in 10 doctors and one in 15 nurses are from an EU country. That is why the Government will seek an early resolution to this issue.
Last week, in a statement issued by the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party press office, a Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament, Alexander Burnett, questioned the right of EU citizens resident in Scotland to participate in Scottish politics. This has caused great concern in Scotland. Will the Minister unreservedly condemn this statement and give EU citizens resident in Scotland, and indeed across the UK, the assurance that they are still welcome to participate in politics and civic society?