As the UK leaves the European Union, hundreds of thousands would have to do the same to their partners.
A National Farewell
On 23 June, Britain will answer a simple Yes or No question of a not-so-simple magnitude. Prime Minister David Cameron told the citizens of an EU referendum being part of his foreign policy agenda. It is now weeks away, and it may spell more than just the end of UK’s decades-old economic and political partnership with 28 other European countries.
‘It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics’, said the prime minister. One of the many, many effects of leaving the EU would be the end of free movement, and with it, the right of several thousand EU citizens to live with their partners in the country.
Down the Wire
Sian Berry of the Green Party is worried that a Yes vote to leaving may force couples in London to bid a government-sanctioned goodbye. According to the Office for National Statistics, there are 102,400 couples recorded in London alone that consist of one British national and another hailing from a different country in the EU. Younger couples do not typically register with the ONS, which means that even more pairs are at risk of separation should the UK actually go through withdrawing from the EU (Brexit).
Immigration solicitors from Gherson explain that it is still possible for couples to settle in the UK together, even if the Leave campaign triumphs come 23 June. They say that non-citizens would have to earn their visas — £35,000 specifically — in order to settle with their loved one legally.
The British public is currently split according to polls, which means that the upcoming Brexit vote would be a national shake-up that will come down to the wire. Unfortunately, many couples would have to wait out the possibility of making their relationships work across wires as well.