McAlpine Condemns UK Government on handling of Brexit

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South Scotland SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine has condemned the UK Government’s handling of Brexit after a British Army Veteran from Closeburn contacted her to express his fear that his German-born wife of 51 years might be refused permission to remain in the UK.


David Bee, 75, served in the army for 34 years before returning to UK in 1994 with his wife, Renate, 76, and their children. He now fears that he might lose her if she isn’t able to obtain the necessary permission to stay.


“We’ve both served this country for many years,” says Mr Bee, “Renate worked in the army too, she was working in the NAAFI when I met her. She’s also made a massive contribution by volunteering for Meals on Wheels over the years. She even earned their Long Service Medal for the contribution she made. Now we find ourselves uncertain if she can even stay here permanently.”


Mrs Bee shares his fears; “I want to visit my sister in Germany who is very ill,” she says, “But I’m too afraid to go in case they don’t let me return. We tried to apply to the leave to remain scheme through the Home Office, but we didn’t have enough computer experience to know what we were supposed to do. It’s very complicated if you don’t have the know-how.”


Ms McAlpine has experienced a significant increase in the number of EU constituents contacting her with concerns about their right to remain in the UK and wants to reassure them that she’ll do everything she can to help them with any worries they might have.


Commenting Ms McAlpine says,


“I want to make clear that EU citizens will always remain welcome in South Scotland and I will continue to do all I can to provide support to those affected.  The way the UK Government has handled the Settled Status process for EU citizens has been a complete shambles, leading to unnecessary stress and anxiety for those applying.


“First, they tried to charge people who have built their lives in Scotland and contribute to our economy and communities for the right to remain here.


“Then they tried to build in loopholes that would mean non-working residents, like pensioners, students and stay-home-parents like Mrs Bee wouldn’t qualify because they’d unwittingly been in breach of EU treaties by not having private health insurance. Thankfully it looks likely that a legal challenge by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has pressurised the government into dropping this.


“Now they’ve introduced a trial period for Settled Status applications that’s only available to applicants with an Android phone. This is causing confusion and worry for EU citizens who, unless they have the right technology, will have to wait until the UK has left the EU on the 30th March before they can even apply. This means residents like Mrs Bee will have to wait for months before they know for sure if they’ll be allowed to stay.


“I have written to all EU citizens living in the Dumfriesshire constituency to let them know that the Scottish Government has funded an advice service to be run by Citizens Advice Scotland. It will go live in late March when the UK Government say the Settled Status Scheme will be open for applications. However, I have also given my support to a parliamentary motion lodged by my colleague, Annabelle Ewing MSP, which calls for the UK government to scrap the Settled Status Scheme completely.”


Image attached – Joan McAlpine MSP pictured with David and Renate Bee from Closeburn