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Dear fellow EU citizen,

For once, I am writing to you on a Saturday. Not to ruin your weekend (hopefully) but only because this week has flown by.

I arrived in Manchester on Sunday for the Conservative Party conference, where I championed #citizensrights and tried to find new allies for our cause. The Westminster Italian Conservative group was particularly helpful and organised several meetings with MPs, ministers and MEPs and I was delighted to give Nickie Aiken (Leader of the Westminster Council) who had been holding rather optimistic views in the press some insight on the problems we will face if all EU citizens are submitted to the Home Office’s proposed new ‘settled status’, namely a mandatory registration scheme of all EU citizens by the Home Office, combined with a loss of rights.

Overall, I found a party on the vane with an obsession with Jeremy Corbyn and a Prime Minister seemingly in a relative weak position with little support from her own party members. Some might have thought her closing speech was a comedy of errors but there is nothing funny about the uncertainty we are facing, and have been facing for 15 long months now, or the rather depressing so-called ‘settled status’.

The next round of negotiations, starting on Monday in Brussels will focus on citizens’ rights and this is when we will see how the serious disagreements in the Cabinet on the future relationship of the UK with EU will impact on the negotiation of our rights.

Last week, we reported that some key demands had been met, which if confirmed would ease how we can document ourselves in the future but the overall idea of 3 million EU citizens losing their current rights and having to apply to claim lesser rights is simply unacceptable. Settled status is only a different name for a form of UK based immigration for non-EU citizens that will allow the Home Office to extend its ‘hostile environment’ to all of us. For example, it includes the mandatory registration of all EU citizens living in the UK, with new conditions such as criminal record checks.

The side effect of such a proposal would be to create a future class of undocumented EU citizens living outside the law, and in the fear of deportation at all times. It may seem alarmist but a similar situation exists in the US where 11 million undocumented immigrants (of which 2 million are children) are trying to live normal lives in the community, working in jobs American citizens do not want to do (sounds familiar?) and the3million will do everything to prevent such a catastrophic situation to happen in the UK.

The sad story of the Grenfell Tower fire serves as a reminder that this country is not that bothered about having a class of undocumented citizens working in sub-conditions, and it is very worrying that even such circumstances did not stop the Home Office from continuing its hostile environment policy or identifying any illegal person caught up in the tragedy.

The Home Office offers a 12-month ‘amnesty’ but what then?

But what’s the alternative?

Instead, and although there is still work to do on the EU side, we support the EU’s proposal providing the same rights as now, under the direct protection of the future treaty between the UK and the EU. In that proposal, we would automatically derive our rights from the treaty without having to apply (or re-apply for those with Permanent Residence) as a pre-condition.

But we’re not there yet. The gap between the UK and the EU approaches is still wide open and we don’t expect that sufficient progress will be made until this fundamental issue has been resolved.

Round 5 of the negotiations is starting on Monday so you might be interested to read our most advanced response to the negotiators that we published yesterday. We’ve sent it to Michel Barnier, David Davis and any more. If you feel like sending to your MP too, read below.

No doubt you will hear from us after round 5.

European regards,