This letter was written for the Telegraph.
SIR – Leaving the European Union will bring many changes, most likely including changes to immigration and free movement rules.
There is anxiety for the three million EU citizens who have made their homes in the UK, and the 1.2 million British citizens living in other EU countries. The Prime Minister’s statement that there would be “no immediate changes” to their status will have been less than fully reassuring.
This is also a vital concern for many British businesses and public services employing EU nationals, who do not want retrospective disruption to their workforce at a time of uncertainty.
We would urge the Government, opposition parties and every candidate standing to be the next Conservative Party leader – and hence Prime Minister – to make an unequivocal statement that EU migrants currently living in the UK are welcome here, and that changes would apply only to new migrants. A clear commitment to protect the status of EU migrants was made by the official Vote Leave campaign – and it must be honoured.
By adopting this policy, the UK puts itself in a strong position to seek a reciprocal commitment from other EU members that EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in other EU countries should be able to continue to live and work in those countries. We believe there are principled, practical and legal reasons why this would be the only sensible and decent policy to pursue. Research also shows a strong consensus across Remain and Leave voters in support of this approach.
It would also send a clear statement to the extreme minority – who appear to believe they have licence to attack and harass migrants – that the British public finds their views repugnant and unwelcome in our society.