18 December 2016
- TUC and BCC heads send joint letter to Theresa May on EU migrants’ right to remain
- ‘Bold unilateral move’ on right to remain is right move for workers, businesses and economy
The TUC and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have today (Sunday) published an open letter to the Prime Minister calling on her to end the uncertainty for workers and businesses by confirming that the government will give current EU migrants a right to remain after Brexit.
The letter, from TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and BCC Director General Adam Marshall, says that the Prime Minister should make this commitment unilaterally as it is both morally right and also in the interests of the British economy. It will also send a signal of goodwill to the EU that will benefit the UK’s negotiating position.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This uncertainty is hugely worrying for working people and their families who have made Britain their home.
“It’s the right thing to do. But it’s also about what is right for Britain too. Continued doubt about the status of workers from the rest of the EU is bad for business, and it puts services like the NHS at risk.
“The government must also crack down on the minority of employers who exploit migrants and undercut wages in the local community”
BCC Director General Adam Marshall said: “Business communities across the UK are deeply frustrated that ministers have declined to guarantee the residence rights of their EU employees and colleagues. Some firms are already losing key members of staff due to this avoidable uncertainty.
“It is within the government’s gift to give an early Christmas present to businesses and employees across the country, and make an unequivocal commitment that EU citizens currently working here will have a permanent right to remain in the UK. Such a move before the start of a complex Brexit negotiation would be bold, but it is the right thing to do for the individuals affected, for the businesses that employ them, and for the economy as a whole.”
Notes to Editors:
- The full text of the letter from TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and BCC Director General Adam Marshall to the Prime Minister is below:
Dear Prime Minister
The business communities and workers we represent across the United Kingdom share a deep and abiding concern for the rights of EU citizens currently living and working in this country.
We have watched the government's continuing refusal to guarantee their right to remain here after Brexit with significant and deepening concern.
Today, we urge you to break the deadlock – and give an unequivocal commitment that EU citizens working here will have a permanent right to remain in the UK.
We recognise that this would be a bold unilateral move, particularly before the start of a complex Brexit negotiation. But it is the right move for these workers, for the businesses that employ them, for the Exchequer, and for the UK economy as a whole. It would also send a clear signal to our colleagues and to our European friends that Britain is committed to doing the right thing.
Securing EU citizens’ right to remain would provide much needed certainty to businesses, working people, their families and local communities. In addition, the government must hold to account the small number of unethical employers who exploit migrant workers to undercut pay and conditions of employment.
We call upon you to demonstrate leadership by providing EU citizens in the UK with the reassurance we would expect to be shown to UK citizens across the Continent – not by making one conditional upon the other. Now is the time to end insecurity for EU workers and for British businesses alike.
Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary
Adam Marshall, BCC Director General
- The publication of the letter coincides with International Migrants Day, which is marked every year on the anniversary of the UN’s adoption on 18 December 1990 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
- All TUC press releases can be found at tuc.org.uk/media
- TUC Press Office on Twitter: @tucnews
Issued: 18 December, 2016