England

The EU nationals offered right to stay

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Media captionReaction to PM's plans for EU nationals in the UK

EU migrants who have lived in Britain for more than five years will be offered the right to stay after Brexit, but where will the proposal have the biggest impact in England?

As foreign nationals, EU citizens did not have a vote in the referendum exactly one year ago.

Yet the implications of the UK's decision to leave the EU left about three million people's future in question.

In Boston in Lincolnshire, the 14,000 EU nationals estimated to be living there is equivalent to a fifth of its overall population, the highest proportion in the UK.

There are areas of London too, such as Kensington and Chelsea, where a significant proportion of people hold citizenship of an EU member state.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, said a new "UK settled status" would grant EU migrants the right to stay and access to health, education and other benefits.

Proposals were unveiled at a summit of the European Council in Brussels. They depend on EU states giving the same guarantee to Britons abroad.

However, it only applies to EU nationals who have lived in the UK for five years.

French engineer Alexandrine Kantor, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme she was living "in limbo".

"I know I'm helping my new country because I'm filling a shortage of skills. (The UK) doesn't have enough electrical engineers.

"I don't regret coming, but I'm now left in limbo. I didn't have a vote. I didn't choose and no-one warned me."

Ms Kantor lives in Oxford, where more than one in 10 of the population is an EU national.

Image copyright Jose Granados Gomez
Image caption Jose Granados Gomez wants EU migrants rights to be respected.

Jose Granados Gomez, from Barcelona, has lived in the UK for five years.

The 35-year-old environmental engineer, of Littleport in Cambridgeshire, said he "never doubted" that the British government would try to make a transition as easy as possible for migrants and employers.

"Everything was pretty much speculation until this announcement so this at least makes me think that the government is pointing in the right direction," he said.

"Since (the Brexit vote) I wasn't worried because I was of the opinion that both the British government and the EU would try by all means to sign a beneficial deal for everyone involved, but I am a bit concerned that there doesn't seem to be a clear plan for the government to follow at this point so everything seems to have been improvised.

"I would just like to see negotiations being carried out as smoothly as possible and that EU migrant rights and obligations are respected the same way that they have been respected up until now."

In Breckland, which has a large Portuguese population working in agriculture and food companies, a new support service was opened by ambassador Manuel Lobo Antunes.

It is run by Carla and Joe Barreto who said many in their community would be reassured by Mrs May's statement to protect EU citizen's rights for five years as most of the families, which amounted to several thousand people of all ages, had set down roots in Norfolk.

Their children were at local academies and had ambitions to educate themselves to stay in the UK, she said.

Mrs May said her offer was "very fair and very serious" and said she wanted to reassure EU citizens that "no one will have to leave".

She said she also wanted to see certainty given to British citizens living elsewhere in the European Union.

Since the Brexit vote EU immigration to the UK has declined. The Office for National Statistics said there were 19,000 fewer EU migrants in 2016 compared with 2015. And the drop started straight after the referendum result.

However, with 250,000 EU migrants in 2016, the number has still not dropped below the level of 2014, the year that restrictions on Romania and Bulgaria were lifted.

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