The Guardian thinks it is going to cause trouble by personalising an issue that I have mentioned a few times.
The story of Dom Wolf, a British born man of 32 who accidentally has a German passport, however, makes uncomfortable reading. He is not alone in finding himself embroiled in an expensive, frustrating and time-consuming battle with the Passport office. His story comes hard on the heels of Sam Schwarzkopf and Monique Hawkins, both of whom received rather aggressive form letters telling them to prepare to leave the country as far as I can tell because they had not included their original passport with the application form, an option, incidentally that was advised or at least permitted.
To be honest, the Passport office has already issued an apology to Schwarzkopf but it is not quite enough: this is what he was apparently told:
“My MP got involved in this, writing letters to the Home Office, and this was very helpful. At first they explained that this was simply the way they write their rejection letters, but eventually someone wrote back with an apology. More importantly, they said they would take this issue on board and consider changing the phrasing. From the story in the Guardian, it sounds that at least so far they haven’t changed it yet.”
The Monique Hawkins issue raised another anomaly which her husband explained:
“As a British citizen, I had the expectation that marrying someone from abroad would automatically give them the right to become a British citizen. That seems to be the case unless your wife happens to come from the European Union,”
The issue is not really about the chaos of the bureaucracy but about our failure to grasp the moral nettle. We should certainly not be waiting for the EU to decide whether British nationals can legitimately remain in EU countries after Brexit before we decide the fate of those EU nationals who have been staying here often for many years. We should take the initiative and leave the EU officials to play catch-up. It should not be a game of tit-for -tat and this is not the major negotiation we should be having with the EU. Success or failure on this point would be cheap and cruel. There are some issues that simply should not be up for negotiation- a line should be drawn in the sand and we should move on from there. If the EU does not agree, then the EU will be the one to look morally shoddy.
We need to “man up” and seize the moral high-ground here because the longer we wait to see whether “brexit means brexit” on this particular issue, the uglier it will become.