Earlier today (1 July), in the House of Commons Chamber the Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, announced a new bespoke immigration route for British Nationals Overseas and their dependents. They will be able to apply for five years’ limited leave to remain with a right to work and study. When this visa expires, they will be able to apply for settled status and a year later for citizenship.
This is in response to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing adopting a wide-ranging national security law for Hong Kong and the UK’s historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong.
Mr Raab commented: “We have carefully assessed the legislation. In particular, we have considered its impact on the rights, freedoms and, critically, the high degree of autonomy bestowed on Hong Kong under China’s Basic Law for Hong Kong and under the joint declaration, which, as the House will know, is the treaty agreed between China and the UK in 1984.
“Today I have the depressing but necessary duty to report to the House that the enactment of this legislation, imposed by the authorities in Beijing on the people of Hong Kong, constitutes a clear and serious breach of the joint declaration.”
He went on to state that: “China has broken its promise to the people of Hong Kong under its own laws, and has breached its international obligations to the United Kingdom under the joint declaration.
“In addition to changing the arrangements for BNOs, the UK will continue to work with our international partners to consider what further action we should responsibly take next. I can tell the House that yesterday in the UN Nations Human Rights Council, the UK made a formal joint statement expressing our deep concern about the human rights situation in both Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Twenty-six other nations joined that statement. It is the first time a formal statement has been made at the Human Rights Council on this issue, and it was delivered through our diplomatic leadership. We will continue to work with our partners in the G7 and the EU and across the region.”
Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, spoke virtually in the House of Commons Chamber to ask the Foreign Secretary:
“I strongly support and welcome my Right Honourable Friend’s Statement today. This is really a sad day for Hong Kong and all of its people. Does my Right Honourable Friend agree that the new National Security Law is, of course, hugely detrimental to the people of Hong Kong but will also do great damage to China and its reputation. We must therefore continue to be robust in our responses on behalf of the people of Hong Kong as he has outlined.”