This is the speech given by Véronique Martin at the European Parliament on Wednesday 10th October 2018 in Brussels.
Reference: In Limbo Project presentations at European Parliament on 10th October 2018
Thank you Elena. Thank you very much.
I am Véronique Martin the associate director of the In Limbo Project and the co-editor of the first In Limbo book.
As you can tell from my accent: I am French but I am also a passionate European.
My life, in fact, is a pure product of the EU.
So, speaking today, in this wonderful Parliament I want to thank the EU for the amazing opportunities it has given me and countless others.
After two horrific world wars, that decimated both my country and my family I was brought up with a deep love for the European Peace Project. I grew up to become a real anglophile and arrived in Britain at the age of 20 with the very first Erasmus exchange in 1984.
We were aware from the very start that we were part of something extraordinary: the creation of a Europe of people.
I fell in love with Britain and with an English boy who has now been my husband for 28 years.
In the past 31 years in the UK, I have acquired a Ph.D, I have worked, volunteered, made many friends, built a life totally integrated.
I never felt like a migrant. I was an EU citizen at home in the EU.
I never felt like a stranger. I was part of the very fabric of my British community.
Yet, the Home Office has denied me and tens of thousands of us the right to permanent residency and therefore citizenship. This is because of a “Comprehensive Sickness Insurance” rule we had never heard of before the referendum. A rule that was deemed illegal by the EU in 2012 because it is incompatible with the NHS and sadly the post brexit settled status is no re-assurance for us because it will not just ask us to register in order to formalize our current residency situation.
Instead, it will force us to apply therefore be subjected to potential rejection, and pay for diminished status with fewer rights making us more vulnerable in our adopted home.
As Elena said, we are already the victims of an exclusion in the new data protection Act and the law pertaining to settled status can easily be changed later on by the government without even going through Parliamentary approval.
Seeing how hostile the Home Office is to foreigners in general. For instance the Windrush community and the Skype families and hostile to us in particular since the referendum. I know I may well become a second class citizen or even an illegal after brexit if anything goes wrong with my application.
It means that I may have to leave my life in the UK, my home, and worst of all my beloved husband who may not be able to follow me as he will have lost his freedom of movement.
Such times of heartache and even in some cases tragedy are rife in our group of Europeans in brexit UK.
My story is only one of one hundred and fifty testimonies collected for anthology In Limbo and behind these stories there are tens of thousands of others. Some of them from people who could not speak out for fear of being the targets of xenophobic attacks or discrimination.
The Limbo we have been forced into over the past two years has been tearing us apart.
Many of us have already left the UK and many more are preparing to leave. And why?
Our only sin was to embrace the European ideal and build our life on it.
It feels deeply unfair to be punished so harshly for this and I also fear it sets a very dangerous precedent.
In Limbo our book has given us a voice when we were not even allowed a vote.
We need you more than ever to read and share our testimonies and also to give us your support.
I will now leave you with our dear friend Debbie Williams the chair of Brexpats Hear Our Voice and a co-editor of our second book.