Poland, November 28
Poland`s prime minister called Monday for a Brexit “compromise” and said, Europeans in Britain and Britons in Europe should not be “made to feel like hostages” as she kicked off a landmark trip to London.
Britain`s shock vote in June to leave the European Union sparked fear among the 800,000 Poles living in Britain, particularly following a spate of xenophobic attacks after the referendum. Beata Szydlo pledged Poland would be a “constructive partner” in potentially fraught negotiations to set the terms of Britain`s divorce from the EU, but that London had to set out a clear vision for its post-EU future.
“We need a good compromise which gives both our countries the best possible options for economic and security cooperation,” she wrote in Monday`s Daily Telegraph.
“But the initiative for determining British ambitions and expectations as to the future level of cooperation with the EU has to come from London.”
Five months after the Brexit vote, Szydlo pressed London not to use migrants like her UK-based compatriots as a bargaining chip in the negotiations. “One thing is certain: millions of UK citizens living across the EU, and millions of EU-27 citizens living in the United Kingdom, should not be made to feel like hostages,” she wrote.
“That means we have to guarantee… their right of residence.”Szydlo`s comments came ahead of a crunch summit between the two governments, expected to focus on defence policy — such as the deployment of 150 British soldiers to north-eastern Poland — and foreign affairs including Russia`s actions in Ukraine and Syria.
Ahead of the meeting, May praised the contribution the Polish community had made to Britain.
“I am determined that Brexit will not weaken our relationship with Poland, rather it will serve as a catalyst to strengthen it,” she said in a statement. “Today`s meeting puts beyond doubt the common ground we share, the importance we attach to our bilateral relationship and the benefits it brings.”
May has repeatedly said, she remains committed to Europe despite voters deciding to withdraw from the EU, a process the British premier has said she will formally begin by the end of March.
She has promised to curb migration from the bloc and has said the UK`s approach to EU citizens currently residing in the country will depend on how Britons abroad are treated in the negotiations with Brussels.
With Poles representing one of the largest minority groups in the UK, Poland has taken a cautious approach to Brexit and last week President Andrzej Duda urged politicians to tone down their rhetoric.
“I propose a glass of cold water to cool emotions, so that in the end it doesn`t turn out that we all lose — both the EU and the UK,” Duda told Bloomberg.
Monday`s summit comes after Poland`s foreign and interior ministers flew to London in September following the murder of a Polish factory worker in Harlow, northeast of London.
The June 23 referendum on EU membership was followed by a spike in the number of attacks against foreigners and two Polish police officers were deployed in Harlow following their compatriot`s murder.
Poland, November 28