Former Ipswich mayor Inga Lockington has had her application for British citizenship turned down by the Home Office – because officials will not accept that she is a UK resident.
Mrs Lockington, who has been a Liberal Democrat councillor for 19 years and was mayor of her adopted town 10 years ago, is Danish. She married Dr Tim Lockington in 1979 and has lived in this country ever since.
She had not applied for UK citizenship until now because as an EU citizen she had the right to live here – and until two years ago Denmark had laws which said she would lose the citizenship of her homeland if she became a naturalised Briton.
The Brexit vote, and a change to Danish law, persuaded her to apply for UK citizenship and she spent £1,282 making the application. After rejecting her application, the Home Office refunded £80 because she will not be required to attend a citizenship ceremony.
The Home Office letter says: ‘As you have not provided a document certifying permanent residence or a permanent residence card issued by the Home Office, we cannot be satisfied that you were permanently resident in the United Kingdom no the date of your application for naturalisation and it has been refused.’
Mrs Lockington said there was no need for EU citizens to have a permanent residence card.
She sais she was not worried about an imminent threat of deportation, but did want to get her UK status settled before Brexit comes into force next year.
She said: ‘I don’t want special treatment – but I do think that EU citizens should be treated fairly.’
When told of her plight, Ipswich MP Sandy Martin, who spent many years alongside Mrs Lockington on both the county and borough councils, said: ‘OMG. That is bonkers! Inga has done so much for Ipswich. I will see if I can raise this in an emergency question at PMQs.’
And former Conservative leader of Ipswich Council Liz Harsant, who led the authority during Mrs Lockington’s mayoralty, said: ‘Whatever is the Home Office thinking of? No one has contributed more to Ipswich life than Inga. I feel so sorry for her – she doesn’t deserve this.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We respect Mrs Lockington’s public service and are happy to discuss the various routes to citizenship available to her.’.
Inga Lockington timeline
Inga Lockington has lived in Britain since her marriage to Tim in December 1979 – these are her key dates.
December 1979: Marries Dr Tim Lockington and returns with him to live in London. Danish passport stamped at Harwich saying: ‘Given leave to enter the United Kingdom for an indefinite period.’
Mid-1990s: Moves with family to Ipswich, law allows EU citizens to go on to electoral rolls and vote in Local elections. Mrs Lockington goes on electoral roll.
1999: Elected LibDem councillor on Ipswich Council for St Margarets. She has held the seat ever since.
2001: Elected to Suffolk County Council. She has held the seat ever since.
2007: Elected Mayor of Ipswich for the year – after serving on the borough’s executive committee.
2016: Brexit vote.
2017: Mrs Lockington decides to apply for UK citizenship.
2018: Citizenship application rejected.