Bexhill MP avoids ‘foolish’ offer to pay constituent’s EU citizen fee

Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman has avoided a ‘rather foolish’ offer made to a constituent after the Government scrapped a plan to charge EU citizens to live in the UK after Brexit.

Mr Merriman said he was so sure the Government would not introduce a charge for EU citizens to continue living in the UK that he offered to pay any charge an Italian constituent would have to pay.

Huw Merriman. File photo

Huw Merriman. File photo

Mr Merriman said he would have honoured his ‘rather foolish’ offer but added: “Surely, given this was a decision by the UK public, we should be welcoming our friends, our neighbours, our essential workforce from the EU and offering this free so they can stay in this country.”

Theresa May announced to MPs on Monday (January 21) she would scrap the fee as she attempted to renegotiate her withdrawal agreement after her previous deal was voted down by 230 votes.

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Mr Merriman, who voted in favour of Mrs May’s previous withdrawal agreement, welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision and said: “Rather than spin my way out, I was straight with my constituents in that I had made an error when telling them that the Government would levy for free, using the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement.

“Rather than hide, I was happy to hold my hands up and I’ve since spent the last couple of weeks canvassing opinions from across the House to get this changed to the approach I expected.

“From Jacob Rees Mogg to the Scottish National Party, it was clear that most MPs, be they remainers or leavers, wanted to see EU citizens given the same rights that they currently enjoy without the need to pay for a change brought about by our EU Referendum.

“The Prime Minister promised that she would look across Parliament and win our support. This is a great step.

“More importantly, it sends a welcoming message to these EU citizens that we are a fair country who treat those from afar with respect. I now hope that every other EU country will do the same for UK citizens seeking the same support to remain on the continent.”

The MP’s office team in Bexhill said it has attended training from the Home Office to ensure that it can assist any EU citizen who experiences difficulties navigating their way through the registration process.

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