As Theresa May sent her letter to the European Union (EU) yesterday, Wednesday, campaigners sent her a clear message that they will stand with migrants from EU countries.
May’s letter triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, beginning the two-year process of Britain leaving the EU.
Despite pledging to “represent” everyone in Britain including “yes, those EU nationals who have made this country their home”, she refused to give any guarantee of their rights.
Numerous migrants from EU countries—some of them in Britain for decades—have been told they may not be able to stay.
A Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) day of action saw leafleting and small protests across Britain to build a fightback.
Outside Downing Street in central London, German-born activist Ulrike Schmidt said, “Now after 28 years in this country suddenly all my rights are in jeopardy. The future I thought was secure is now insecure. And it’s not just me—this is happening to three million of us.”
Brian Richardson from SUTR took on the lie that EU migrants are “health tourists” after NHS boss Simon Stevens announced plans to make GPs check their documents.
“You’re far more likely to find an EU migrant nursing you in hospital than taking your hospital bed,” he said.
Other events took place around Britain. Around 30 people rallied in Portsmouth, to hear speeches by French, German and Irish workers.
Activists gave out more than 500 SUTR leaflets demanding “full rights for EU nationals in Britain now” at Leeds main train station.
There were actions in workplaces too. Nurses in University College London Hospital held up SUTR signs saying "Hands off our workmates".
EU nationals at Chesterfield station were pleased to see campaigners leafleting there.
Some protests also took place against “Brexit”, and liberal commentators argued that Britain should stay in the EU.
But the EU is a rotten, undemocratic bosses’ club that spends billions on border controls. And May is under pressure—we must create opportunities to campaign for demands that represent workers’ interests.
SUTR organiser Zak Cochrane said, “We have to defend EU workers and students and not let them be used as bargaining chips.”