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UCU urges politicians to back EU nationals' right to stay in UK

7 February 2017 | last updated: 13 February 2017

Union says uncertainty over EU workers' rights risks damaging economy and leaving people in limbo

UCU has urged the Prime Minister and MPs to guarantee the rights of EU workers to remain in the UK after the UK leaves the EU. The union said it was disappointed by the Prime Minister's lukewarm commitment so far to supporting EU workers, including the thousands that work in UK universities and colleges.

The union said her refusal to take the lead and guarantee their rights because she had failed to win support for a reciprocal deal with the other EU member states was particularly worrying as she indicated in her keynote speech on Brexit that she would walk away from negotiations.

MPs are due to vote on amendments on Wednesday that would give EU workers the right to remain in the UK after it leaves the EU. Theresa May has spoken warmly about the contribution EU nationals make to our society and economy, but has refused to guarantee their right to remain in the country.

UCU said MPs should keep up the pressure by backing amendments in tomorrow's debate in the House of Commons. EU nationals make up around 15% of UK university staff.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Theresa May has spoken warmly about the contribution EU nationals make to our economy and wider society. However, actions speak louder than words and we urge her to guarantee their right to stay in the UK after we leave the EU. Not only would this demonstrate her commitment to hardworking EU nationals, it would send a much-needed message to the world that Britain remains a welcoming country still open for business.

'The Prime Minister has given little away about what Brexit might mean, but did concede she has failed to get the other EU member states to offer a reciprocal agreement for Brits living abroad. We believe she should lead the way in this area, especially as she has threatened to walk away from negotiations which could leave the thousands of EU nationals currently here in complete limbo.

'MPs must keep the pressure on the PM and government and we urge them to back amendments tomorrow that would secure the right of EU nationals to remain in the UK.'