Thousands back top Peterborough chef who vows to leave UK rather than be forced to 'apply' to stay in own home
A top Peterborough chef has vowed to leave the UK rather than be forced to 'apply' to stay in his own home - and thousands have already backed his campaign.
Damian Wawrzyniak, who owns the House of Feasts restaurant in Eye Green, is calling on the Government to change the settled status process for the more than three million EU citizens living here after Brexit.
The dad of two, who moved to the UK from Poland around 15 years ago, said it is wrong he is being forced to make an 'application' to stay in the UK when he already has permanent residency.
Instead, he has started a government petition calling for the process to be changed to a 'registration'. And after just a couple of days the petition has been signed by nearly 6,000 people, while Mr Wawrzyniak said he has received the support of well-known chef and writer Nigel Slater.
The 39-year-old, who lives just outside Peterborough, said: "Why should I apply to stay at my own home?
"The three million European citizens who live here - their kids were born here and are going to British schools, so why should they have to apply?
"It's not about the money as the £65 fee was scrapped, it's the principle. The wording means a lot to lots of people. This is massively important.
"You should have an automatic right to stay without any application after a certain period of time if you have no criminal record and are part of the community."
Mr Wawrzyniak, whose children were born at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, said he had been made to feel very welcome in the country, and that many UK citizens have signed his petition which he believes will reach the 100,000 threshold to force a debate in Parliament.
But he is adamant that if his campaign fails in its ultimate goal he will not absolutely not fill out an 'application', even if it means he is forced to leave the country.
EU citizens wishing to stay in the UK must apply for settled status by June 2021 in the event of a Brexit deal and December 2020 in the event of no deal.
Mr Wawrzyniak said: "It's a risk, but I'm an honourable person and if I say something, I will do something. This wording is treating me unfairly and I will stick to my guns.
"I don't know if Brexit will happen, but if I have to leave I will leave with my head high. I will be sad but I will not bend to apply."
To sign the petition, visit the government petition website or search: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/257397.