It goes without saying that EU nationals make an invaluable contribution to our economy, our society and our daily lives. I can assure you that there will be no immediate change in their status in the UK.
Similarly the discussions that the Government has with the European Union to agree the arrangements for the UK’s exit will undoubtedly reflect the immense contribution made by EU citizens to our economy, our NHS and our schools, and in so many other ways. However I am clear they must also secure the interests of the 1.2 million British citizens who live and work elsewhere in the EU.
I am confident that we will be able to work to secure and guarantee the legal status of EU nationals living here as well as the rights of British citizens abroad, but I do feel that this would be best done through reciprocal discussions with the European Union as part of the negotiations to leave the EU.
It is in the best interests of all for the Government to conduct detailed work on this issue, and for the new Prime Minister to decide the best way forward as quickly as possible. In the meantime, let me stress that EU nationals continue to be welcome here. There have been some truly abhorrent hate crimes perpetrated against EU nationals recently and we will not stand for attacks of any kind. They must be, and will be, tackled in the strongest possible terms.