The Observer reports: Two young Polish women on the train from Gatwick into London are chattering away, bags at their feet. Off the flight from Kraków after five days at home with family, they followed the news, and the speeches, from Britain all week. “You have to – so as to get an idea of how long before we will be driven out of England. I’m sure it will happen,” said Angela, who is the manager of a gastropub near Oxford.
“It’s sad this is the way things are going because I was pleased to have a woman prime minister, but my boss said to me it will be bad. He’s angry because he wants to choose staff for how good they are, not their nationality. He says it will be hard to replace me, which is nice to hear,” she said.
Angela and her friend, Martina, are among the 600,000 people who will not have been in the UK for five years – giving, under present rules, permanent residency rights – by the time the UK leaves the EU in 2019. Now she and her friend are alarmed by the tone of the rhetoric that emerged from last week’s Tory conference. They are among thousands across Europe and beyond who fear that life for people hoping to settle in Britain may be about to become more difficult.
Of the 2.1 million EU nationals employed in the UK, Poles are the biggest group. Of EU nationals in the UK, Poles number 916,000, Irish 332,000, Romanians 233,000 and Portuguese 219,000, according to latest figures from the Office of National Statistics.
“My cousin is a priest here, he would rather be in Poland, close to his old mother, but he came where there is a shortage [of priests] and to be where he is needed. Britain does need workers,” Angela said. “In Poland people are worried, shocked. They say Britain is now dangerous and tell stories in the newspaper of race attacks and murders. People are scared if their children are living here,” she added. [Continue reading…]