Clearly something has disappeared from the file. The question is about—
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the on-stage prompt.
The question is about European nationals. The Government’s aim is clear: we wish to guarantee the rights of European nationals at the same time as we guarantee those of British citizens abroad. We raised that matter with the Polish delegation—the Polish Prime Minister and others who came to the UK this week—and they agreed that both matters have to be dealt with at the same time.
Every week since 23 June, I have met EU nationals who live in my constituency. They are part of our community, many are working in vital roles in our NHS and public services, and they are deeply distressed by the uncertainty that this process is causing them and their families. Will the Secretary of State unilaterally confirm their right to live in the UK and to continue playing their vital role in our communities?
May I say two things to the hon. Lady? It is a serious issue and I accept that she takes it seriously, as we all do. As I said last time—I hope this gets promulgated—the majority of European nationals already have the right indefinitely to remain because of the time they have been here, or if they have been here for two and a half years, they will certainly have that before we leave. More to the point of what she said, we discussed the matter with the Poles and several other European countries, and they accept in terms—indeed, the Polish Prime Minister said it in public two days ago—that this has to be dealt with at the same time as British citizens abroad because they, too, will feel a nervousness and we must not leave them hanging.
I also have many constituents who are EU citizens actively contributing to our community and our economy, and they are worried about their future here. This Government have the power to give them certainty and to find the best way to ensure reciprocal guarantees for UK citizens in other EU countries. Is it fair to use one group of people to hold another to ransom?
The phrase, “holding people to ransom” is mightily unhelpful to the whole argument. Our whole strategy is designed to avoid holding anybody to ransom and to ensure that everybody who should have rights gets them recognised at the same time. I am afraid that the arguments in the European domain in the last week have reinforced that viewpoint. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, it demonstrates that we are taking the right approach. If it were up to us, we would have this resolved in months, but we have to get agreement with the European Union, too.