Polish Londoner

These are the thoughts and moods of a born Londoner who is proud of his Polish roots.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Letter to David Davis, Brexit Minister on EU citizens in UK

Dear Minister,
I am grateful for receiving an unsigned letter dated 22 December 2016 – ref TO006534 from your Correspondence Unit of the Department for Exiting the European Union on the subject of EU citizens’ rights in this country. Regretfully I have to say that as a former Vice-Chairman of the Federation of Poles in great Britain and a former Ealing Borough Councillor I found the response somewhat unsatisfactory despite your Department’s assurances about “protecting the status of EU nationals already living here” and for the following reasons:
1/ What does “already living here” mean? What is the deadline? Does the Government intend to allow more EU citizens to arrive here before the deadline is set at some date in the distant future? It does make this open to abuse by later EU arrivals seeking to settle. The quicker your Government makes that announcement, the less abuse there would be.
2/ Just allowing EU citizens to carry on undergoing the complex procedure of applying for permanent residence and digging up all details of their travel, home addresses and details of employment over the past 5 or so years is not only especially onerous for the applicants and their families but, at the present rate that such applications are processed by the Home Office, it could take nearly 20 years to be implemented fully for all those eligible. Also these applications are more likely to be rejected by the Home Office because of the difficulty of obtaining the right information, especially for the self-employed
3/ Your proposal does not secure the rights of those who are not yet eligible for permanent residence as they have been here less than 5 years, and seriously undermines the rights of those who have been here legally under Treaty rules for less than 3 years, as their eligibility would still remain uncertain after the supposed 2 year negotiation period is over
4/ The status of permanent residence is an EU concept and will in any case be likely to be formally substituted by the UK’s “indefinite leave to remain” status and that change could involve further bureaucracy
5/ The future status of EU citizens, even with “permanent residence”, are likely to be disenfranchised of their eligibility to participate in local government elections as soon as the EU negotiations are completed, despite the fact that they pay council tax and national insurance
6/ UK employers are still finding it difficult to plan long term with their investment and employment policies because of uncertainty over the status of their current and future EU employees
7/ The dragged-out procedure for granting permanent residence or other equivalent means of ensuring the right to stay is not likely to impress other EU countries when negotiations begin after March 2017 and could be applied in the same way to UK citizens in those countries
8/ In the meantime criminal elements from the EU and those working illegally without payment of taxes would continue to live here over the 2 year negotiating period on the same status as law abiding EU citizens
9/ This elongated procedure does not make clear to perpetrators of hate crime that EU citizens currently here have a right to stay and work here, and their children have a right to attend school here.

In my opinion most of these issues can be resolved by a resolute and early decision before March 2017 to create a new legal status open to all EU citizens currently living here under Treaty rules (with some similarity to the status of Maltese citizens). A possible name for it could be “Maastricht Treaty status”. Eligibility for this status and issuing of the appropriate new ID could be handled by local government based on the electoral and social services records as well as registered births and marriages already in their possession, but enhanced by relevant records from the Home Office and DWP and financed from a special central reserve fund at the Home Office. In my view the advantages would be as follows:
1/ The deadline for eligibility can be set immediately as soon as the announcement is made. This would prevent a later surge of EU citizens to this country.
2/ Eligibility can be established very quickly by local government and will not require the complex procedures required by the Home Office for acquiring permanent residence. IDs can be issued with same speed as local bus passes.
3/ The new Status encompasses all EU citizens currently here as long as they have national insurance numbers and have not abused welfare payments or been guilty of criminal offences either here or in their country of origin. It will ease the deportation of EU criminals with no right of return.
4/ The new status would be the same as the current EU status under permanent residence but with the added right to continue to participate in local elections
5/ UK employers will be able to commence their medium and long-term planning on investment and recruitment
6/ This will have a positive effect on the EU negotiations once they begin and will make it much more likely that EU countries will reciprocate with similar rights for UK citizens abroad.
7/ Their special status protects EU citizens from intimidation by perpetrators of hate crime
8/ This is a one off right applicable only to citizens currently here from the current EU countries, including Croatia, but would not apply to citizens of any new member countries of the EU.

I would like to thank you for allowing me to make my views known and I hope that you will have the opportunity to discuss these issues with your colleagues on the Cabinet and your Civil Servants. I am also forwarding a similar letter to the Chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Brexit and a copy to my local MP – Dr Rupa Huq.

Yours sincerely,

Wiktor Moszczyński

Saturday, 3 December 2016

A Fair Deal for Poles in the UK – Appeal to Parliament

Dear Members of Parliament, “Our ties with Poland are rooted deeply in our shared history” the Prime Minister said last week. Poland and the UK have faced external threats together since before the Second World War, and again now through NATO. Polish workers were made to feel especially welcome here when Poland joined the EU in 2004. In fact, they were encouraged to come and work here as a dynamic younger work force which would tackle the skills shortage, re-energize the British economy and rejuvenate the ageing population. Poles have continued to maintain their highly motivated work ethic, set up more than 87,000 businesses and contributed generously to the UK exchequer. After the EU referendum on June 23rd, Polish and other EU workers and their families discovered that their presence in the UK was no longer welcomed. Most Leave campaigners during the referendum campaign had promised that the status of EU nationals currently here would be safe. Yet in the aftermath of the referendum Poles in the UK found themselves open to abuse and on occasions to actual physical attacks from UK citizens who interpreted the referendum result as a call for all EU foreign workers to depart. More than 180,000 Polish children in the UK were left deeply unsettled over their future. There were ugly incidents of hate crime including serious physical assaults, arson and even murder, as well as low level intimidation in public and online. While the UK Government has said no EU nationals should be expelled they have made this conditional on EU acquiescence. The International Trade Secretary has even referred to EU nationals as being a “key card” in the negotiations lasting over the next 3 years. It is shameful that thousands of Polish children should be treated by the UK government as hostages in a diplomatic poker game. The UK government must declare unequivocally now that Polish and other EU citizens currently here under EU treaty rules, as well as their dependants, will be allowed to stay and work in this country. It is to the advantage of the United Kingdom to make such a declaration promptly because: 1/ The UK should honour its commitment to those who arrived here legally under EU legislation and have contributed to the UK economy and society. 2/ UK companies need a stable environment to plan their future investment and recruitment policies 3/ A positive tone will be set for starting future negotiations with the EU when Article 50 is invoked. 4/ There is less likelihood of a late “surge” of EU nationals once a clear demarcation date is set. 5/ Polish entrepreneurs and Polish families will not feel pressurized to leave the UK early. 6/ Perpetrators of hate crimes will be discouraged from intimidating Polish and other EU citizens. Krystyna Bell, cultural coordinator, Andrzej Błoński, architect in private practice, Alina Callender, retired civil servant , Piotr Chłapowski, architect in private practice, Dr Ryszard Chmielowiec, retired engineer, Andrzej Fόrmaniak, chartered engineer, Piotr Fudakowski, feature film producer, Danuta Hart, headmistress, Maria Horbaczewska, retired city banker, Major Otton Hulacki, retired printer, WWII veteran, Jan Jarzembowski, historian, Joanna Kańska, actor; Stefan Kasprzyk, former Mayor of Islington, Wanda Kościa, documentary film maker, Jakub Krupa, press agency journalist, Dr Olgierd Lalko, community leader, Ludomir Lasocki, former adviser to Polish Finance Minister, Jan Ledόchowski, financial adviser, film-maker, Rula Lenska, actor, Agnieszka Major, founder of Polish Psychologist Association, Director, Antah Ocean Ltd, Joanna Młudzińska, project manager, Dr Jan Mokrzycki, ex Chair of Federation of Poles in GB, Wiktor Moszczyński, ex Ealing Councillor, author, Bartłomiej Nowak, community centre manager, Tad Ostrowski, Director, Artington Legal, Irma Pietroń, solicitor, Romana Pizon, Bradford community leader, Tad Potworowski, Chartered Accountant, Krzysztof Ruszczyński, Director, Credit Union, Jolanta Sabbat, Health Policy Consultant, Janusz Sikora-Sikorski, Chair, Relief Society for Poles & Janusz and Wanda Prawdzic Szlaski Charitable Trust, former chair of the Polish Catholic Mission in England & Wales, Filip Slipaczek, Chartered Financial Planner & Patron of Faith Matters, Piotr Sowiński, veterinary surgeon, , Dr Marek Stella-Sawicki MBE, military historian, Magda Szkuta, librarian curator, Robert Wiśniowski, Chartered Accountant, A E P Zaleski, solicitor, Andrzej Zakrzewski, chartered engineer, Krzysztof Zarębski, Management Consultant, Dr Marian Zastawny, Chair Association of Polish Engineers, Jan Zylinski, former London Mayoral candidate. Contact address: Wiktor Moszczyński, Convenor, A Fair Deal for Poles in the UK, 48 Inglis Road, London W5 3RW, Tel 07786471833 To be published in The House" magazine 9th December 2016