New Year, New Hope?

 

Now that the turmoil of December festivities have passed, we finally have a moment to catch a breath and take a look at the events of the past two weeks.

In short, we have not received the guarantees – a gift we were hoping for so much, even though we well deserved it. While hearing cheerful wishes of peace and love all around, we tried to suppress our ever-present uncertainty and upset.

But the world wasn’t standing still. Today Ivan Rogers (https://yhoo.it/2iwpvtE), the British Ambassador to the EU resigned, causing a stir not only at 10 Downing Street, but pretty much nationwide. He had angered Eurosceptics in December when it emerged he had told ministers it could take 10 years to negotiate a free-trade deal with the EU and yet opinions that UK lost invaluable EU insight seemed frequent.

In other stories, Mrs May is considering giving up on the European convention of human rights. According to Charles Falconer, “it will be green light for despots and a disaster for ordinary people” (http://bit.ly/2hN3B1p). Also a prominent Northern Irish politician says Theresa May will ‘very likely’ face court challenge to block human rights law reforms, amid local anger at potential breach of Northern Irish peace treaty (http://ind.pn/2hR4oiH).

Meanwhile, another territory, the Orkney Islands threatened seeking independence from both UK and Scotland if Brexit is to pull them out of the EU (https://yhoo.it/2hPhK16).

On a more personal level, we heard the shocking news of the Home Office rejecting permanent residency applications of even those who have nowhere to “go back” to, having spent most of their adult life in the UK: the heart-breaking story of a Dutch woman, told to leave after 24 years on the Isles, with British kids and husband (http://bit.ly/2hxnpJe), followed by that of a German neuroscientist (http://bit.ly/2iwvBdv), whose application for residency was also rejected.

This has raised serious doubts of all Europeans who may not have a British spouse or an impressive scientific career. If those who seem most rooted, desired or ‘entitled’ to stay are rejected, what chances do the ordinary people have? As the Guardian reminds us in the latter story, under current rules, EU/EEA nationals automatically gain permanent residence after five years, provided certain criteria are met. “The PR document I applied for doesn’t give me permanent residence rights, it simply confirms them. So it really should be a formality. But the Home Office seems to want to make it excessively difficult for people”.

What we can do now is perhaps sit and wait for the Supreme Court, whose verdict is due later this month. This in turn will determine the way in which a Brexit-triggering decision will need to be legally taken, and is likely to shed more light on our still uncertain future.

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