The British Veterinary Association has said Theresa May’s offer of ‘settled status’ to EU nationals who have lived in the UK for five years does not provide enough certainty for vets.
The cut-off date after which new arrivals will no longer be guaranteed the right to remain has not been set, but it could be anywhere between March 29 2017, when Article 50 was triggered, to March 2019, when the UK formally leaves the EU – leaving a group of people uncertain of their immigration status.
The deal is also contingent on reciprocal arrangements being made for UK citizens in the EU and does not indicate whether people with settled status will be allowed to bring in children or spouses.
President of the BVA Gudrun Ravetz said: “Our EU colleagues play a crucial role in helping the UK maintain animal health and animal welfare.
“The veterinary profession is relatively small, so the loss of even a small percentage of the workforce would have a significant impact. The time has come for the Government to provide clear guarantees and stop using people as bargaining chips.”
The BVA, which sees around 50 per cent of vets registering to practise in the UK every year coming from the EU, has previously raised concerns about post-Brexit trade arrangements leaving farmers with a shortage of official vets.
Figures recently released by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons showed 44 per cent of EU vets in the UK are fearful about what the future holds.
Outside the UK
Two in five vets are saying they are now more likely to leave, and 18 per cent are actively looking for work outside the UK.
Ms Gudrun added: “The BVA has called for all EU vets and vet nurses currently working in the UK to be guaranteed living and working rights.
“At this stage, the Prime Minister’s proposal leaves too many questions unanswered and we hope the full details offer something more concrete.
“The EU referendum has already had a serious effect on EU colleagues, who have been teetering on a knife-edge for 12 months now.”