Swedish ambassador Torbjörn Sohlström briefed more than 200 worried Swedes on Sunday afternoon about the risks they face from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
“Great interest for today's information meeting @SvkyrkanLondon on Brexit,” he said on Twitter after the meeting. “Could with colleagues answer some questions. But more remain.”
Anders Alberius, the church’s vicar, said that Sohlström had advised Swedes in the UK to apply immediately for permanent residency if they had lived in the UK for the requisite five years.
“If you haven’t been here for five years, the advice was to make sure you have all the papers that will be needed when you are applying — where you have worked, where you have lived — so that you can really prove that you have been living here in Great Britain if needed.”
But he said that Sohlström had admitted that at this stage it remained uncertain how European Union citizens living in London would be affected.
“Of course there are many questions that were put to the ambassador concerning what will happen to people who are studying, living in Great Britain right now, or who have lived here for a great many years,” he said.
Alberius said that many Swedes in London, both those in his congregation and those who use the church mainly as a meeting place, were worried about whether they would be able to stay.
“Those who have been here a really long time, think ‘if I’ve been here for 25 years they can hardly throw me out’, but a large number of others wonder what the conditions will be for the right to work, residency rights, education and health insurance,” he told TT.
The meeting comes shortly after Sweden’s Minister for EU Affairs and Trade Ann Linde visited London to speak to meet UK ministers and talk to Swedes about any discrimination they are facing.
“We have been directly informed about a dozen cases where Swedes have been the victim of taunts and suchlike. We also suspect that there are a significantly larger number of cases that we have not been informed about,” Sohlström told Dagens Nyheter.
There are roughly 100,000 Swedes in the UK, of which about a half live around London.