The government says it wants the 3.5 million citizens of other EU countries currently living in the UK to stay after Brexit but they will have to apply for leave to remain. But May used her speech to the CBI to highlight the fact that the proposed EU withdrawal agreement will bring an end to free movement, once and for all.
Sputnik spoke to Maike Bohn, Public relations and founding member of the3million about Theresa May’s comments and the impact they could have.
Sputnik: What did you make of Theresa May’s comments?
Maike Bohn: you have to laugh really, but it was wrong on every level. It is morally wrong, factually wrong and it made no sense economically either because after Brexit there will be huge skill shortages.
So demonising makes no sense economically as there are already shortages that can’t be filled. It was inflammatory, because we know that Brits hate queue jumpers so she tapped into an emotion of people who are not at home, and don’t know how to behave and jumps queues, I think that was wrong, it cast us back to the inflammatory rhetoric of the 2016 referendum.
Sputnik: How damaging could this be if the Prime Minister is trying to get support for her Brexit deal by scapegoating EU Nationals?
Maike Bohn: She cranked up the anti-EU rhetoric as she needs to sell her Brexit deal, and appeal to the hard liners, but what’s interesting is even among Conservatives there was a real backlash against her comments.
She was ill advised by whoever wrote that speech for her or if she wrote it herself. It was a miscalculation and it backfired on her.
Sputnik: Is there a worry from EU citizens that the UK is alienating them now and increasingly becoming unwelcoming to them despite them coming here and doing important roles in the NHS and other services?
So if there is rise in hate crime and when Brexit happens and the economy shrinks, there are a lot of worries in case there’s a deal or no deal that people will take it out on EU citizens.
I’ve heard from forums and other conversations that people in the EU they are really worried about what’s happening in the UK and the weak pound and the hostile rhetoric from high up in politics, is putting people off migrating to the UK and making it a home as they don’t even know whether they can stay and under what conditions and they have 27 other countries to choose from.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Maike Bohn and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.