Bristol and Brexit

Bristol and Brexit

On Thursday 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union, via a nationwide referendum.

Whilst nationally 52% of voters opted to leave the EU, in Bristol there was a 61.73% vote to remain.

In response to the vote Mayor Marvin Rees has convened a city-wide Brexit Response Group (BRG) to fully understand the challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit. The group includes local organisations in the public, private, business and academic sectors plus voluntary and community groups. The Group aims to:

  • look at the immediate and longer term economic and social impact of the leave vote on citizens and communities in Bristol and the city as a whole
  • work with partners in the city to ensure the community tension monitoring systems are in place and effective, and provide reassurance that Bristol remains an open and tolerant city
  • actively respond to the process of Britain leaving the EU (Article 50), currently expected in early 2017
  • secure and develop Bristol’s international reputation as a city that is open for business and can attract global investment and opportunities for citizens and businesses

The BRG has submitted an initial series of responses and calls to action to central government on funding, economic and community impact.

Bristol and Brexit guide

The submissions to central government are summarised in the Bristol and Brexit guide (pdf, 1.3MB) (opens new window) which:

  • outlines the issues at stake for Bristol
  • highlights the city’s desire to work with government, the region and other Core Cities to inform the national response to the referendum

Information for EU citizens living in Bristol

New agreement on citizens’ rights

On Friday 15th December, the UK and the EU Commission made an agreement on citizens’ rights.

The agreement means that EU citizens living lawfully in the UK, and UK nationals living lawfully in the EU by 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and enjoy broadly the same rights and benefits as they do now.
The agreement includes that:

  • Close family members will be able to join after the UK has left the EU. This includes spouses, unmarried partners, children, grandchildren, dependent parents and grandparents. Children born or adopted outside of the UK after the 29 March 2019 will also be covered. 
  • People will be able to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing settled status, more than double the level of absence allowed under current EU law. There will be the same reciprocal protection for UK nationals living in the EU.
  • Professional qualifications (e.g. doctors and architects) will continue to be recognised where these are obtained before the date of the UK’s departure from the EU. 
  • It will be easy to apply for settled status and there will be a full right of appeal.
  • Those EU citizens who already hold a valid Permanent Residence document will be able to have their status converted to settled status free of charge. 

Healthcare, pensions and other benefits
The agreement means that EU citizens who have paid into the UK system can benefit from what they’ve already put in and continue to benefit from existing coordination rules for future contributions. Those covered by the agreement will be able to continue to receive healthcare as they do now.

New process for applying for ‘settled status’

There will be a transparent, smooth and streamlined process to enable EU citizens to apply for settled status starting in the latter half of next year for two years after the UK leaves the EU – from 2018 to 2021.

Rights for EU citizens and their families

EU Citizens looking to remain in the UK will be asked to apply for settled status through a new user-friendly scheme. This is due to launch in 2018.

Healthcare, pensions and other benefit provisions will remain the same for EU citizens with settled status.

EU citizens who arrived in the UK before 29 March 2019 and have 5 years of continuous residence in the UK will be eligible for settled status.

People who won't have been here for 5 years when we leave will be able to apply to stay until they have reached the 5-year threshold.

There is no need for EU citizens living in the UK to do anything at this stage.

You can read more about settled status and citizens' rights on the goverments site for EU citizen rights in the UK. The Government will keep you up to date with more details, including the cost, opening date of the scheme and documentation you are likely to need, in the first half of 2018. It will be much simpler and quicker than applying for Permanent Residence, so EU citizens do not need to do anything at this stage.

The latest information is published on the website on the Status of EU citizens in the UK: what you need to know page.

Information from UK Government 

The UK Government's first priority in negotiations with the EU is to secure the status of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK nationals living in the EU.

No EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will have to leave at the point that we leave the EU. 

If you're an EU citizen living in the UK, there is no need to do anything now, including applying for a permanent residence document.

There will be no change to the status of EU citizens living in the UK while the UK remains in the EU. 

If you would like to find out the latest information you can sign up for email updates.

You can also find more information from the Home Office

Other sources of information and advice

A European funded project called Living Rights focuses on hate crime and making EU nationals aware of their rights in the UK.

As part of the Living Rights project, the Law Centre Network has produced a leaflet (pdf, 378k) (opens new window) on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.

More information for EU Nationals living in the UK is available on the Living Rights website.

Reports of incidents of hate crime in Bristol following the Brexit vote were low. However anyone experiencing hate crime should report it to Bristol Hate Crime Services.