EU citizens living in the UK have spoken of their disbelief, heartbreak and fear following the leaking of a Home Office document setting out post-Brexit immigration proposals.
Workers in both highly skilled and low-skilled jobs who contacted the Guardian said they now felt they lived in a “hostile environment” with no trust the government would allow them stay in the country beyond Brexit.
Alexandrine Kantor, a French engineer in Oxford, said: “I almost regret coming and settling in the UK. Professionally it was a good move but not on a personal level. If I had known that in the future I would only be allowed to stay for three years I would not have come.”
The tone of the document has left a strong impression with EU citizens that the Home Office cannot even be trusted to secure the lifetime rights of those already settled in the country, despite negotiations in Brussels for a deal.
Dutch GP Sebastian Kalwij, 51, questioned whether he would be able to continue to practise in the long term, even after 22 years in the country, in a system that would favour the British over other Europeans.
“I read the leaked draft document in the Guardian and I just shrugged my shoulders in disbelief. Another half-baked idea from a desperate Brexit team.
“I have a strong sense of solidarity with my fellow Europeans. Why would I be allowed to stay as I work in the NHS, which has its own recruitment crisis, whilst others are not?” he said.
He had considered leaving the country, but decided to stay for family reasons.
Kalwij said he read the Dutch newspapers on a daily basis and “it’s evident that the reputation of the UK is in shatters”. He added: “It’s painful to see the course of self-destruction the present government has chosen.”