Tuesday, March 28, 2017

PR - permanent residence

In the aftermath of June's vote, Thomas and I joined both an EU citizen forum and a legal advice page for people with EU passports. Of the 3.2 million EU citizens in the UK, it feels to me as if the vast majority have decided to scramble to obtain PR, despite the 85 page form, the ridiculous amount of paperwork requested (five years + of all P60s, salary slips, bank statements, housing proof, receipts for every trip abroad since you arrived in the UK, proof of private sickness cover, extras if you happen to be self-employed etc, etc) - the list seems endless and I have seen many people clocking up up to £60 in postage to forward this to the Home Office. It also costs money to apply and gathering together the necessary paperwork seemingly takes months. However, I felt almost from day one that this was not a route that attracted me. The reasons for that are many:

  • I'm bloody-minded and don't see why we should jump through hoops after nearly two decades legal residence.
  • I can see that many people will fall at completely arbitrary hurdles such as an ex-employer being unable or unwilling to re-issue payslips, or people not having the CSI that no one knew about in the first place, so it is unfair.
  • It only gives you the right to remain if you don't leave the country for more than six months, otherwise it is rescinded - six months is a completely reasonable amount of time to leave the country, especially if you work internationally or have relatives abroad.
  • It is governed by EU law so potentially worthless from Brexit day on.

I could see only one reason to obtain it and that was so Thomas could apply for dual nationality - the only way he could retain his right to come and go as he pleased. Dual nationality costs over £1200 but would allow us both to leave with the ability to return one day, if we so desired. If we leave tomorrow, six months from now Thomas will have lost all rights to PR (and therefore citizenship) despite being here since he was 30 and having UK national children.

But as time has gone by I have become much more conscious of the reason why, unlike most EU citizens' partners, I am not pushing for him to apply to be allowed to stay... I can see that it is in human nature to fight tooth and nail to keep the rights you already have, so life can go on as usual, uninterrupted. You want your status quo, but that's gone now. Subconsciously at first and now consciously I am very aware that even with PR, life is about to change dramatically. From tomorrow onwards, unless someone knocks some sense into May, or overthrows her, we will be moving towards being an isolated state on the periphery of Europe, attached to no trading blocks, with no EU funding and no joint projects in our universities. We will haemorrhage skilled EU doctors, lecturers and the likes. We'll lose the right to move, work and love elsewhere. Our already struggling economy will hit rock bottom while she struggles for a decade to even match the trading capacity we have already. The desperate people who voted for Brexit because they wanted their lives to improve will become an angry mob, when exactly the opposite happens. It was after all the poorest places, and those most dependent on EU trade that were hoodwinked into voting for Brexit - 67% of Welsh trade is with the EU in the parts of Wales that voted out! If Scotland cannot escape and remain at least within the single market, it will be hit with an even greater force than the south of the UK. England's NHS will need to be privatised so there will be no block grant to Scotland for ours. Despite the Scottish government pulling in the other direction, no funding will mean no choice and we too will lose our NHS, our free higher education and worse still, our Scottish government will ironically be blamed for our economic woes. As Sturgeon has been saying for months, this is about what kind of country we see ourselves living in going forward - an open, cooperative, internationalist one with a welfare state to care for our sick and elderly, or a closed, xenophobic, low tax, no welfare state economy. The country May describes in her Empire 2.0 fantasies is of no interest to me as a home. If Scotland's dragged along chained to that vision, Scotland is not a place where Thomas will need PR, because it is not a place where I will want to bring my kids up. I don't need Thomas to have PR because if we become a country where he needs it to remain, I am the one who will need to look at changing nationality.

It is a strange sensation to watch everything you have built in your adult life being taken away, without your having a say or any ability to change it. Some days I am angry, other days I am crushed to the point where I can hardly get out of bed, some days I relish the challenge of restarting again at 50 but today I simply feel strangely calm.

My children will be brought up in the EU, one way or another.


Marc said...

Absolutely!!! You' re so right Phyllis. Your nationality is what you feel.

SoerenM said...

Assuming that Scotland stays in the UK and therefore leaves the EU causing Thomas to longer be welcome, can we have him back? You are obviously, from my point of view at least, welcome to join him here.

That can only make Denmark a better place.