Confusing times: Brexit has plunged us all into an unforeseeable mess of consequences and bureaucratic chaos. But now it slowly becomes apparent just how many aspects of life are affected. Legally, they are far-reaching and often difficult to overcome. And now, the Human Rights Committee has warned about a possible crisis regarding Human Rights after Brexit.
It is only recently that people have started talking about the influence the UK leaving the EU will have on human rights, which is alarming to think about. For now, fundamental rights to equality and non-discrimination of Britain’s population are protected by the ECHR (the European Convention on Human Rights) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. These two contracts secure the same basic rights for all European citizens. Although the ECHR is not affected by Brexit as it concerns Europe and not the EU, there is a problem coming our way. In the course of negotiating, the UK wants to discard the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which could loosen the guaranteed protection under EU law for UK citizens. This way, a future government could potentially weaken some of the rights with a new legislation.
Especially in the case of a ‘no-deal-Brexit’ there could be chaos, disruption and lack of clear legal guarantees, which could all in turn aggravate social tensions. EU citizens legally living in the UK could be stripped of all of their rights at once, no matter how long they have lived here, if they were born in the UK and regardless of how much they have contributed to our social security system. This could put their housing, social security, and free movement rights at stake.
For now, the process of securing legitimacy for the people living here is difficult, bureaucratic and not flexible enough to be applicable to the hundreds of thousands of EU citizens currently residing in the UK. Critics agree that it is especially the vulnerable people who might encounter problems regarding the legal process.
If legislation fails to simplify this process fast enough, there could easily be 100,000 and more people who would lose their legal rights on any given day. The cut-off point for the legal action they could take is expected to be somewhere in 2020 or 2021. If they haven’t proven their legitimacy and right to live in the UK by then, their immigration status could change, leading to them being denied access to national services and eventually being forced to leave the country.
This would especially affect children in foster homes with no access to legal assistance — and there is a big possibility of them being left behind during this process. This would also infringe their right to identity and nationality. Appealing after the cut-off point is expensive and difficult, leaving these children within a time limit and a requirement to know about their own legal status and rights. What will happen if they fail is currently unclear, but there are certainly some prospects.
Even if the legislation does not force them out of the country, they would not be able to access higher education, get a job, or even have a driver’s license due to their unclear immigration status. This would even take away their right to basic education.
Additionally, with Brexit proponents calling for a deregulation in the working life, there is the strong possibility of weakening workers’ rights, which would no longer be protected through EU law.
Critics are now calling for the Government to address the people that could potentially be affected by these consequences, and to not leave them in the dark concerning their legal options. The UK’s political parties should at least work together while dealing with securing fundamental human rights and protecting the vulnerable, regardless of their political differences.