Statement on Citizens' Rights

I believe it is utterly wrong for people to be placed in a situation where - after making a home, enriching a community, and contributing to society - they are now facing this awful uncertainty. The European Commission has produced the following 23-page memo on citizens' rights, which I believe may be of interest. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/2017-12-12_qa_citizens_rights.pdf

When I spoke in the European Parliament ahead of the vote on whether to proceed to Phase 2, it was with a heavy heart. But In Phase 2, the promises of the shysters and charlatans who have so disgraced themselves in their conduct will be shown as what they are. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJitWtv6WnU
Citizens' rights have been close to my - and the SNP's heart - since the EU referendum vote. I am proud that our First Minister's response immediately after the vote was to reassure EU nationals living in Scotland that "you remain welcome here, Scotland is your home, and your contribution is valued". We will do all we can to safeguard them, as shown by the First Minister's Conference commitment in October to pay the residence fees for EU nationals working in our public services. We want you to stay. https://www.snp.org/nicola_sturgeons_speech_to_the_snp_conference_2017
That effort continues, and I was glad to see citizens' rights prioritised, along with the Irish border and the financial obligations, into Phase One of the Brexit talks. In the votes this week the Parliament had to take a view on whether there had been "sufficient progress" in the talks to move to Phase Two, the future relationship.
There has been a lot of doublespeak on citizens' rights, especially from the UK Government. Given Mrs May's personal track record as Home Secretary in creating a "hostile environment" for third country nationals I have been particularly vociferous that guarantees are put into the documents as much as possible. As you may already know, Mrs May and I butted heads during her time as Home Secretary, where grim anti-immigrant rhetoric penalised Scottish families. http://www.alynsmith.eu/scottish_mep_demands_to_see_the_legal_guidance_that_the_uk_government_is_using_to_tear_scottish_families_apart
Earlier this year, I spoke to the European Parliament to highlight the cases of EU nationals in the UK, and vice versa, because it is morally wrong to leave people floundering in anxiety and uncertainty due to the intransigence of the UK Government. This is not some kind of thought experiment, but the lives of real people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chRUI4NgSf4
This is an issue of great concern for me, and I've been highlighting it whenever and wherever I can. For example, I wrote this piece to hammer home the human cost of Brexit, because people aren't just statistics. http://www.alynsmith.eu/_empathy_fatigue_for_eu_nationals_you_won_t_find_that_here
The decision on sufficient progress is a difficult one, and much as I have not seen as much progress as I would like, we are not agreeing that 'everything is agreed' we are agreeing to move onto further talks, where we will have an opportunity to refine things further.  I appreciate that this continues the uncertainty people feel, but the way the UK Government has conducted these talks has proven to me that they will not give ground until the very last minute. https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/8965/mep-rebukes-uk-government-think-tank-casts-doubt-eu-nationals
This saddens me but I think the only way to gain greater certainty is to move to Phase Two. I will continue to press the case for citizens' rights, and I hope this helps to show you that I have been working hard to keep citizens' rights front and centre of the Brexit discussions, and will continue to do so with your support.