An astonishing statistic, and a vote of confidence, is contained in a British Government report on applications from European Union citizens who wish to settle in the post-Brexit United Kingdom.
There was a June 30, 2021 deadline for these applications, which have been coming in for two years, and that deadline produced a flurry of last-minute submissions.
THE TOTAL NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS RECEIVED BY THE DEADLINE IS WELL OVER FIVE (5) MILLION.
According to the 2011 census, that number is greater than the combined populations of Britain’s Black, Indian and Pakistani communities. An astonishing statistic.
Many of these EU applications have come from people who are already living in the U.K., and who want to make sure they can remain after Brexit, but a significant number of the applications are new.
These applicants have many qualities that are appealing to the future of the country. They are young, just over 2% are over 65, and that compares favourably with the current national figures where 19% of the population is over 65. Many of the applicants, who came to study and stayed, are well educated, and well equipped for the local job market. An example is health-care workers. These immigrants were vilified by the likes of Boris Johnson during the Brexit campaign. He identified them as a burden on the National Health Service, whereas, in fact, they will help prop up the NHS.
As an aside, this is another example of the lies perpetrated by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage during the Brexit campaign, which they have since admitted were expedient lies, but for which they have never been held accountable.
Many of the five million current applicants are from ex-communist Eastern Europe, and they are bootstrap capitalists, keen on hard work, and grateful to Britain for admitting them straight after their countries joined the European Union, unlike nearly every other country in the bloc.
The British Government now needs to be flexible and generous to reap the benefit of this windfall, according to The Economist. It should facilitate the path to citizenship for these assets to the country, rather than following its usual procedures of nit-picking the applications, resulting in denials. Certainly the Home Office needs to be careful and thorough, but not to the point of rejecting perfectly good people for minuscule and irrelevant bureaucratic reasons. These people chose the U.K., and deserve our support. Slashing the application fee of 1,330 Pounds ($1,840) would be a good start, especially when that fee is out-of-line with other countries, and prohibitive for people on ordinary salaries.
The Economist states that with settled status, the five (5) million will be able to study, work and pay taxes. But, as citizens, they and their children would play a fuller part in Britain’s civic life by voting, standing for election and putting down roots. Over time, they would help change their adopted country for the better.
Britain is fortunate that so many wish to be part of the country’s future. They are a prize to be seized, not an obstacle to be negotiated.
The United Kingdom, like its language of English, and its world legacy, has always benefited from fresh inputs. This is just one more exemplary example. The opportunity, created by the astonishing statistic of five (5) million willing applicants, should be seized enthusiastically. Let me repeat, an astonishing statistic.