THERE are calls for EU nationals who work in health and social care should be given an automatic right to remain in the UK.

Liberal Democrat councillor Stan Pajak also wants to see an extension to the transition period for leaving the EU to allow recovery from the coronavirus lockdown.

Coun Pajak says official figures show 8,740 EU nationals in Swindon have not been granted settled status and is calling on the government to do more to help.

He said: “Too many EU nationals in our town are deeply anxious about their right to stay. With the uncertainty of Brexit, it’s disgraceful to leave them in legal limbo like this.

“Families and children must not be made to live under a cloud of uncertainty any longer. The Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for EU citizens by fighting to guarantee their rights to live and work in the UK.”

Of the 20,730 EU nationals across Swindon who have applied for permanent residency, only 11,800 have been granted settled status. Of those, 1,700 have applied to the Home Office scheme but are still waiting for a final decision to be made.

Another 7,040 have been given only temporary pre-settled status, meaning they will have to reapply within five years or be forced to leave the UK.

Coun Pajak has also written to South Swindon MP Robert Buckland – the justice secretary in prime minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet – and is asking him to support a two-year extension to the transition period due to end on December 31.

In a letter to Mr Buckland, who campaigned to remain in the 2016 referendum, he said: “Knowing your true belief on our relationship with the EU could you please consider supporting the Lib Dem bill for a two-year extension.

"We have introduced a bill to require the government to seek a two-year extension, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is clear the government have not made nearly enough progress on Brexit trade talks and to crash us out of the transition period at a time when our NHS, economy and food supply chains are already stretched would be unthinkable.”

Mr Buckland has not responded to the Adver's request for comment.