Welcome to DutchReview’s 2017 Brexit kick-off!
Happy New Year, everybody. Let’s hope it’s a better one. Because as everyone knows, 2016 threw its fair share of turds against the window of history. The UK’s vote to leave the European Union, a.k.a. the Brexit referendum, was a particularly sticky one, and is still adhered grimly to the windscreen as we enter 2017.
As the countdown to Brexit begins, there are conflicting views from either side of the debate on what its impact will be. Some suggest that Brexit might even be good for the Netherlands. So, will it hail a glorious new age of unfettered trade and prosperity for Britain and the EU? Or are we all up Brexshit creek?
One group of people whom Brexit has left without a paddle are those who find themselves on the wrong side of the UK border. Whether for UK citizens living in an EU country, or EU citizens living in the UK, the uncertainty caused by the referendum result is acute. And while there has been some effort in the UK press to highlight the plight of these people whom Brexit has so royally shafted, so far little has been done to make their situation any clearer.
“Make arrangements to leave”
Enter the Home Office, stage left. Though unprepared and ill-equipped for the task, the UK Home Office has been left to deal with the surge in panicked applications for permanent residency that EU citizens have been submitting en masse. Currently EU citizens have the right to live, study and work in the UK. However, the anxiety of the referendum has caused many of them to apply for permanent residency in the UK – something you’d currently only need to do if you were from outside the EU.
Such was the recent case of Dutch citizen Monique Hawkins. She has lived in the UK for 24 years, is married to a UK citizen with whom she has two children, and works as a software engineer in Surrey. However, having seen the way the wind was blowing, she decided to fill in the 85-page application tome for permanent residency and send it off to the Home Office. Due to upcoming travel commitments she was unable to submit her Dutch passport along with the application, which generally takes 4-6 months to process. Instead she provided a solicitor-approved copy of it.
Is there a happy ending to this story? Did she get her permanent residency thanks to the efficiency of the UK’s bureaucratic system? Is she now living safe and well with this huge weight lifted from her mind? As you might have guessed, the answer is: nope.
In true post-Brexit fashion, Monique Hawkins was treated to the bureaucratic equivalent of a middle finger to the face. The UK Home Office duly trolled her with the following reply:
“As you appear to have no alternative basis of stay in the United Kingdom you should now make arrangements to leave.”
Cheers, Brexit. Nice one. Yeah.
2017 Brexit: A fun year ahead
And so, as we lurch into the 2017 Brexit times, spare a thought for those people who are going to be swaffeled by Brexit in the coming months. Maybe Britain will negotiate a good deal for them. Maybe we will all have our cake and eat it. Who knows.
In any case, the negotiations were off to a dodgy start yesterday when Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK ambassador to the EU in Brussels, announced his early resignation. Perhaps his permanent residency application had been rejected too.