Warsaw, Poland – The Polish Ambassador to London, Arkady Rzegocki, has expressed worries over the possibility of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ and urged Polish citizens to come home.
In a letter sent to the over 800,000 Poles currently living in the U.K., Poland’s envoy urged his compatriots to “seriously consider the possibility of returning to their homeland”.
“Soon, Great-Britain, which has been home to thousands of Poles for generations, will most likely cease to be a member of the European Union – which we regret”, he wrote to the Poles established in the U.K., set to leave the EU on October 31 without – for now – any deal in sight with Brussels.
“We also see this process as an opportunity to strengthen the bond between our two countries”, the ambassador continued. “The rapidly growing economy of our country creates more and more opportunities for citizens for development and good conditions in the country”.
Last year, nearly 120,000 Poles already left the U.K., according to official data.
He also voiced concerns over the fact that only 27% of Poles in Britain had applied for settled status, a mandatory process for EU nationals to be able to stay in the country after its departure from the bloc. This level is “alarmingly low”, warns M. Rzegocki.
“Of course, we are concerned about this process a little bit, because there’s 42% of [applicants] who received pre-settled status, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Wednesday. “It means that there’s quite a lot of people who have had some problem with receiving settled status”.
“People who have been here five or ten years have also had problems”, Arkady Rzegocki, who has been Poland’s top envoy in the U.K. since 2016, stressed. “On one hand, there it still a lot of time to apply, on the other hand, because of Brexit, it is better to achieve settled status soon”.
The estimated 3.5 million EU citizens living in the U.K. have until the end of 2020 to lodge their applications and apply for settled status.
This isn’t the first appeal of the kind. Officials in Warsaw have long reached out to Polish residents in the U.K. and urged them to come back to Poland ever since the 2016 Brexit referendum. “I would hope that many, many Poles would come back to Poland, so give us our people back”, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said earlier this year, citing Poland’s booming economy and record-low unemployment to urge his fellow countrymen to return home.