UK minister makes unilateral promise to Polish expats

British Foreign Affairs Minister Boris Johnson has told Polish citizens living in the UK “your rights will be protected whatever happens” after Brexit.

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Mr Johnson was speaking at a dinner for the Polish community, which is the UK’s largest group of EU expats.

The reassurance came days after his Spanish counterpart gave a similar guarantee to Britons in a BBC interview and after Connexion received a letter from the head of President Macron’s private office saying the French foreign affairs minister is being asked to consider what reassurances might be given to the British community in France.

Mr Johnson told Polish people at a gathering of the Belvedere Forum on Polish-UK relations: “We have 30,000 businesses in this country which are Polish and one million Poles and we are thoroughly blessed and lucky – you are loved and welcome and your rights will be protected whatever happens.

“Yes. You are recording this? Your rights will be protected whatever happens and we will make sure we continue to be open and welcoming to those from Poland who want come and make their lives here in this country, because it’s been a fantastic thing for Britain.”

The comments were stronger than any so far given by the British government, which had held off from making any unilateral promises on EU citizens' rights preferring to discuss them in the context of reciprocal rights in the negotiations for the Brexit deal.

There are more Polish people in the UK than any other nationality (Irish and then Romanian are next, with over 300,000 each). They mostly came since the opening up of the EU to Eastern Europe in 2004, when Britain chose not to take up an option of up to seven years of temporary free movement restrictions (apart from on access to certain social welfare benefits).

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