Another Push on the Immigration Bill
As you might have seen, the Report Stage of the Immigration Bill opened in the House of Lords on Wednesday 30 September.
Lady Hamwee introduced our amendment on the right to return to the UK with our non-UK families (see our previous blog). Ten other peers, from all parties as well as crossbenchers, spoke powerfully and movingly in support of the BiE amendment. Many of them actually read out the emails that they had received from BiE members.
If you missed the debate and would like to watch it or you can read it in Hansard here (look for Amendment 11, which starts at 8.33pm). Our Twitter thread, which is a compilation of highlights from the speeches, is well worth reading too.
So first of all, a huge 'well done' to those of you who have already written to peers - you are living proof that your personal stories, told in the right place at the right time, work. British in Europe has been working hard on this for a long time now, and it was a real breakthrough to be name-checked several times in the debate and to get such positive support.
But this is not over yet....
Because the virtual voting system broke down earlier on Wednesday afternoon, voting on the amendment has been deferred until next Monday 5 October. This means that, thanks to the techno gods, we have an unexpected three days to try to persuade more peers to support and vote for the amendment. If the amendment does pass in the Lords, it will send a powerful message to the Government that they should think again.
We have a real chance of making this happen but, if we are to do so, we urgently need your help again. If you are one of the many who have a non-UK spouse or family member, here are two things that you can do:
1. Write to a peer (even if you’ve done it already)
The first and most important action is to write to a peer - or preferably to several - before Monday. FIND THE ONES WE RECOMMEND HERE.
Lady Hamwee, in her opening speech, highlighted the impact of individually written emails:
“They have taken such care to contact us, not with standard formulaic emails but with powerful descriptions of their situations, their concerns and their distress”
So once again we are not providing you with a template: instead we invite you to tell your own story in your own words. To help you, here are some ideas, but do adapt them to your own situation:
- I am writing to ask you to support British in Europe’s Immigration Bill amendment (Amendment 11) which would reverse a change in the law that is causing me, and thousands of others in my position, great anxiety for my family’s future.
- Describe briefly who you are. Example: you are a British citizen living in Germany with your German husband and your children; you have parents in the UK who may well need care as they become older and more frail; your husband has parents in Germany who may also need future care. Describe your own situation here and give more details if you can. Say more about how you feel about the dilemma that you may face in future.
- Like all the other British citizens who moved to the EU while the UK was a member, I moved here in the legitimate expectation that I would always be able to move back to my country of birth if ever the need arose. This has always been a comfort not just to me but to my parents in the UK.
- Many of us met a non-EU partner while in the EU, and settled and made a family here together - a family rooted not just in the EU but also in the UK. We believed that our family could and would remain united wherever we lived.
- Unless this Bill is amended, my right to return home with my family without meeting the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) will be removed on March 29 2022. I am unlikely ever to be able to meet the MIR, which would leave me with impossible choices to make about my life and my family. How do I choose whether to return to the UK to look after my own parents, leaving my partner behind, or to stay where I am to look after those of my partner? It’s not only an impossible choice, it’s an inhumane one too.
- The Government’s answer is that they have given us fifteen months from the end of transition to return with our families to the UK. It is unthinkable to put a time limit on making such a life-changing decision and uprooting my family - when it might turn out not even to be necessary. As Lord Dubs said in the debate on Wednesday: “We were told that people will have fifteen months to sort themselves out, but this proposal takes away a basic right—whether you have fifteen months or longer to accept it, it is still taking away a basic right. That is surely unacceptable.”
You can find a list of peers you can write to here. We are focusing on crossbench and non-affiliated peers, as we already have support from Lib Dem, Labour and Green parties. Please pick a number of peers at random from the list rather than just starting at the top - that way we should get most of them covered. Write to as many as you can.
If you are writing to peers who use the generic House of Lords email address - firstname.lastname@example.org - you need to put the peer’s name in the subject line of your email. You can only send up to six emails a day from a single email address to this address.
You might want to include a copy of the British in Europe briefing paper with your email.
Supporting our EU friends in the UK
If you would like to, you could add a sentence or two to your email to support our friends at the3million by also asking your selected peers to vote for Amendment 18, which would give EU citizens with settled status in the UK a physical proof of that status - in other words, a residence document like the one that we in the EU will have a right to receive. Currently the UK government is not offering this, leaving EU citizens in the UK without physical proof of their right to reside. You can find out more here.
2. Complete our Right to Return survey
Over 650 of you have already completed our survey - thank you - and the results so far will help us to show why this is such an important issue.
We know that there are many more of you out there with a non-UK family member and we need to hear from as many of you as possible. If you haven’t yet completed the survey, would you do so this weekend? It will take you no more than 5 or 10 minutes and you’ll be helping our campaign.
Please share this blog with other Britons in Europe who also might need to return to the UK with their non-UK family.
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