Mayor calls on PM to give right to remain in UK for EU nationals

16 March 2017
  • Sadiq Khan wants cast-iron guarantee given as soon as Article 50 triggered
  • New film highlights enormous contribution of EU nationals in capital
  • “You are Londoners, you are welcome here” – Mayor

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on the Prime Minister to give an immediate cast-iron guarantee to EU nationals that they can stay in the UK after Brexit.

Sadiq wants the unilateral pledge, protecting the 3.3million EU citizens who currently live in Britain, to be given as soon as Theresa May triggers Article 50, formally starting the Brexit process.

Around one million of them are in London. The Mayor said: “My message to them is clear: you are Londoners, you are welcome here and you deserve a commitment from the Government that you can stay.”

Earlier this month, the House of Lords passed an amendment to the Article 50 Bill to give all EU citizens who currently live in the UK the right to stay here after Brexit. This was rejected by MPs on Monday night and the Article 50 Bill passed into law unchanged.

Mrs May is now expected formally to trigger Article 50 before the end of March.

Sadiq Khan believes it is crucial that the Government protects the EU citizens living in the UK and that there is broad support for guaranteeing their long term status.

He argues that this needs to be done immediately and that it is unacceptable that people who have made their lives here and contributed to our city and our country are now worried about their long-term future.

The Mayor wants the Home Office to set up a separate simple and comprehensive process for all EU nationals legally in the UK to apply for permanent residence.

He believes the current system is not fit for purpose – a view shared by the Select Committee on Exiting the EU who discussed the impact of Brexit with the Mayor earlier this week.

The Mayor’s call to confirm the status of EU nationals coincides with the release of a new film telling the stories and sharing the experiences of the people behind the statistic of around one million EU citizens living in London.

The film can be accessed at:

As part of the Mayor’s #LondonIsOpen campaign, the film introduces friends, colleagues, families from across Europe who call London home, highlighting that London always has been, and will stay open to investment, trade and talent from around the globe. 

There are just over a million non-UK EU nationals living in London. They work in every sector of the economy, including making vital contributions to finance, tech, construction and healthcare. In February, research published by the Mayor revealed that a quarter of London’s construction workforce is from the European Union, laying bare the crippling effect that a Hard Brexit could have on homebuilding in the capital.*

Sadiq Khan said: “Make no mistake about it, the one million European citizens who study, live and work in our great city contribute massively to its success and there is absolutely no doubt that London would suffer immeasurably without them.

“Business, universities, schools and the health services are all telling me the same thing - you can’t keep over a million Londoners in limbo.

“It is vital that the Government gives them a cast-iron guarantee of the right to remain in the UK  and does not use them as bargaining chips during the complicated process ahead. This reflects badly on London’s and UK’s global reputation.

“European citizens, who have studied, lived and worked in London for years – contributing massively to our success – now fear that they may not have a future in the city they’ve made their home. Many of them have had and brought up children here.

“My message to them is clear: You are Londoners, you are welcome here and you deserve a commitment from the government that you can stay.”


Notes to editors

  • The Mayor published an official report about the impact of Brexit on London earlier this week. The London Brexit Paper can be read here:


  • *Last month, the Mayor published His ‘Housing in London’ report. This showed that there are 350,000 people who work in London’s construction sector, of which just over half are from the UK, while 27 per cent are from the EU, just under 100,000. The remaining part of the workforce is from other European countries (three per cent), while 14 per cent is from the rest of the world.