Concerns have been raised about the future of elderly EU citizens settled in the UK after a Dutch widow who has lived in the country for 50 years said she feared she could be deported because she has not kept paperwork showing she is here legally.
Elly Wright came to the UK in 1967 after marrying a British serviceman in Germany and spent most of her adult life working in the NHS and public housing. She retired in 1993.
“It never occurred to me at the age of 75 that I would have to prove my right to live here. I stopped working 24 years ago, I just don’t have those papers,” she said in her Surrey home.
“The leave vote came as a tremendous shock to me. I woke up at 4am on the 24th of June and thought to just quickly see the result of the referendum and then go back to sleep.
“I can honestly say that I have hardly had a good night’s sleep since. I wake up after two or three hours’ sleep, actively worrying about where to find proof of my 50 years’ of life and work in Britain, and even if I were to get PR [permanent residency], for how long would that keep me safe?” said Wright.
Her marriage to an army intelligence officer was shortlived but she could not leave the UK because they had a son together and an English court ordered her to stay in the country as part of the divorce settlement.
She worked as an administrator and medical liaison officer in the NHS for seven years and met her second husband, Michael, a psychiatrist, in 1981.