Thursday 19 September 2019

EU citizens left anxious by proposed end to freedom of movement

Some have said the changes have put them off travelling outside of the country altogether.

By Megan Baynes, PA

EU citizens living in the UK have described the “constant state of anxiety” they are in after the government announced freedom of movement would end on October 31 in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Ministers were warned that dramatically changing the system on October 31 could leave the UK facing “another Windrush” – a reference to the immigration scandal which saw British subjects detained, denied legal rights and threatened with deportation.

Some have said the changes have put them off travelling outside of the country, with some unsure if they would be able to return at all.

EU citizen Katarina Schulte told PA: “I usually visit my family in Germany over the years, but I don’t think I will this year. I’m afraid of ending up at Heathrow customs on my way back and denied entrance or being detained, or god knows what.

“I am in a constant state of anxiety at this point. There’s no information, no answers, nothing. All we can do is sit and wait, and hope it’s not going to be too bad.”

Jean-Christophe Lanoe has lived in the UK since 1988 but said the conflicting advice was a “bad advert” for the UK for EU citizens.

He told PA: “Freedom of movement is the one thing that causes so much angst and sadness. I might try to leave for holidays, but maybe not. I will wait. I predict a huge drop in EU citizens visiting friends and family over Christmas.”

Robert Busch, a molecular immunologist at the University of Roehampton, said the situation was “troubling”.

He added that he had not yet applied for settled status as he had not wanted to put himself through the “indignity” of the scheme.

On the decision to end freedom of movement, he told PA: “It will have a hit on the UK travel industry.

“People who have made provisions to travel could get stuck, but also those people who have sudden family emergencies and find themselves suddenly needing to leave the UK face uncertainty when they try to return.”

PA Media

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