David Cameron has reassured Poland’s prime minister that her countrymen face no immediate threat to their right to live and work in the UK in the wake of last month’s vote for withdrawal from the EU.
The Prime Minister met Beata Szydlo during a visit to Polish capital Warsaw for a summit of the Nato military alliance.
He repeated his condemnation of the string of race hate crimes recorded against Poles living in the UK following the June 23 referendum.
The position of EU nationals has been thrust to the centre of the race to succeed Mr Cameron as PM by frontrunner Theresa May’s refusal to guarantee current residents the right to stay in the UK following Brexit.
Mrs May has been accused of using the UK’s three million EU nationals as a “bargaining chip” after she said their future would have to be part of a negotiation over the rights of Britons in the remaining EU. Leadership rival Andrea Leadsom has said she would offer them an immediate right to stay.
Following Mr Cameron’s 20-minute talks with Ms Szydlo, a Government source said: “The PM reiterated his condemnation of some of the race hate crimes we have seen recently in the UK in the wake of the decision to leave the EU.
“The PM said that he expected that the legal rights of Poles in the UK would be protected. It was also important for the rights of British citizens living in the EU to also be protected.”
The source stressed that Mr Cameron was restating his position on the status of EU nationals while the UK remains a member-state, and was not making a commitment on what will happen after Brexit.
The meeting came shortly after Mr Cameron nominated the UK’s ambassador to France to become Britain’s new European Commissioner.
Subject to approval by the European Parliament, Sir Julian King will fill the vacancy left in Brussels when former commissioner Lord Hill of Oareford resigned in the wake of last month’s referendum.
Despite the Brexit vote, the UK remains a full member with the right to one of the 28 seats on the powerful Commission until it has formally left the EU – which could take two years or more.
Career diplomat Sir Julian, 51, took up his post in Paris in February this year, having previously served as ambassador to Ireland from 2009 to 2011.