Polish Prime Minister puts rights of her citizens in the UK at the top of agenda

Prime Minister Theresa May (right) welcomes Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo to 10 Downing Street,

Prime Minister Theresa May (right) welcomes Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo to 10 Downing Street, London, ahead of a summit meeting. Philip Toscano/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Poland's prime minister put guarantees for Polish citizens living and working in the United Kingdom following Brexit at the top of her agenda during a visit to London.

The Polish premier Beata Szydlo held talks with British prime minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street after the pair paid their respects to Polish airmen who lost their lives in the Second World War at the Polish War Memorial in Northolt, west London.

Following the talks Mrs May said she wanted the two countries to become 'even closer allies' after Britain leaves the European Union.

Mrs May confirmed plans to deploy 150 troops from the Light Dragoons to north-east Poland. The regiment was based in Norfolk, but moved to Catterick last year.

The two premiers agreed that sanctions on Russia must be maintained until the Minsk agreement on Ukraine is fully implemented.

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Following talks with Mrs Szydlo in 10 Downing Street, Mrs May said the UK was making 'significant progress' to prepare for Brexit negotiations which she intends to launch under Article 50 of the EU treaties by the end of March 2017.

'I have reiterated my plan to guarantee the rights of Poles and other Europeans currently living in the UK, so long as the rights of British citizens living across the EU are guaranteed,' said Mrs May.

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'I hope we can reach an early agreement on this issue, providing certainty for Polish citizens here and British people living in Europe.

Mrs Szydlo said: 'From the point of view of Poland, let me reiterate that the most important thing (after Brexit) is the guarantees for the Polish citizens who are living and working in the United Kingdom.

'Of course, these guarantees would need to be reciprocal.

'It's also important what guarantees the British citizens living and working in other member states of the European Union will have.'

At a press conference in Downing Street Mrs Szydlo said they had also discussed the possibility of Polish being taught as a foreign language in British schools.

And she thanked the UK for its response to 'very sad' alleged hate crimes against Poles after the Brexit vote, including the killing of Arkadiusz Jozwik in Harlow, Essex.

The Polish PM said: 'I would also like to thank for the support given by the British Government to those members of the Polish community who have suffered after the very sad incident in hate crimes in the United Kingdom.

'You reacted immediately and we continue working together in order to make sure that the Polish community is safe.'

Poland is Britain's leading trading partner in central Europe, with bilateral trade at £15 billion last year and UK exports to Poland doubling over the past decade.

They also agreed to work towards the first UK-Poland bilateral defence treaty.

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