Suffolk

Former Ipswich mayor loses UK citizenship bid

Inga Lockington Image copyright Rebekah Downes/PA
Image caption Former mayor Inga Lockington hands Bobby Robson the Freedom of Ipswich in 2008

A former mayor of Ipswich is appealing a decision by the Home Office to refuse her British citizenship.

Inga Lockington moved to the UK in 1979 from Denmark when she married her husband Tim, she told the Ipswich Star.

Mrs Lockington retains a Danish passport, which was stamped on her arrival with the words "leave to enter for an indefinite period".

A Home Office spokeswoman said they were "happy to discuss routes to citizenship available to her".

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Mrs Lockington, 66, who lives in Ipswich, has been a Liberal Democrat councillor for 19 years and served as mayor in 2007.

Image caption Mrs Lockington's Danish passport was stamped in 1979
Image caption Mrs Lockington has lived in the UK since 1979 and spent many years in public service

She said she decided to apply for UK citizenship after the EU referendum - and was keen to have her status updated before Britain formally leaves the EU next year.

"I needed clarity," she said. "I didn't want to lose my Danish citizenship because it's really important to me - it's my birthright.

"I applied for dual citizenship - and they said no."

Image copyright Yiu Mok/PA
Image caption The Home Office said it "respects Mrs Lockington's public service"

"Left in limbo"

Home Office guidelines state that anyone applying for UK citizenship "must first obtain proof of at least five years residence in the UK in the form of a Home Office issued permanent residence card."

Mrs Lockington said she didn't have a card because she believed the passport stamp was enough.

"You just expect different when you get a stamp from an English official saying you can stay indefinitely," she said.

She described the experience as a "tick box exercise" that "left people in limbo".

"You cannot snap your fingers and turn the clock back 40 years," she said.

"They can argue over trade deals and borders but they do not understand the pain and hurt of ordinary people living here."

Image caption County councillor Inga Lockington served as the mayor of Ipswich in 2007

Liberal Democrat party president, Sal Brinton, tweeted: "I have known Inga for close to 20 years, she's had indefinite leave to remain in her passport since 1979. Hostile environment for lawful EU citizens already here. Disgraceful!"

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