Robert Jenrick is Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and is MP for Newark.
Earlier this year, the United Kingdom launched a new, dedicated immigration route for British National Overseas (BNO) status holders and their descendants, reflecting our historic and moral commitment to those people of Hong Kong who have chosen to retain their ties to the UK. It’s an unprecedented scheme and there is no other visa in the world of this nature.
We are a champion of freedom and democracy, and will live up to our responsibilities to the people of Hong Kong, so that these families will come to find the UK a place they can call home.
It is an honour that many are choosing to relocate, and I have made it the mission of my department to guarantee that all BNO status holders and their families have the very best start as soon as they arrive here.
To those coming to the United Kingdom, on behalf of the whole country let me be among the first to wish you the very warmest of welcomes.
Our message is clear – that the UK government and the British people are here to welcome you with open arms, and we will endeavour to help you as much as possible to settle in and build a prosperous, happy life in your new home.
You have so much to offer our nation at this critical point in our island’s history. Our children will thrive studying alongside one another, our businesses will benefit from new talent, and our communities will be enriched by new neighbours and friendships.
While uprooting your family and beginning a new life on the other side of the world is a daunting prospect, I have no doubt that you are going to feel very much at home.
We are doing everything in our power to ensure your success and happiness here, with support to help you find a home, schools for your children, jobs and opportunity.
The UK has a long and proud history of embracing those who arrive on our shores seeking the rights and freedoms denied to them in their homeland.
And while the UK and Hong Kong may be many miles apart and different in many ways, the fundamental principles that underpin life here will already be more than familiar to you. After all, for more than a century we flourished together as free societies and dynamic economies under the rule of law where people can express themselves and achieve their full potential.
To those coming to the UK or already here, I hope the support we are providing makes your move as successful as it can be for yourself, for your family, and for this wonderful country that we now share.
Last week, we announced an initial £43 million package to help new arrivals find a home, a school place for their children, employment or a route to set up a business.
We are creating 12 welcome hubs right across the UK to give BNO status holders the practical help when needed. There will be support for everything from learning English to transferring professional qualifications.
We’re also creating educational resources for schools so that they can teach young people about our historic connection and commitment to Hong Kong and its people.
And we’ve created a comprehensive welcome pack to help BNO families navigate the move, including information on how to access public services, register to vote and open a bank account. It also points out how to access libraries and leisure centres, and promotes the UK’s rich cultural, arts and music events – all translated into Cantonese.
Last week, I met with four Hong Kong families who have recently arrived in the UK and heard their hopes and fears as they start their new lives. Their profound sense of optimism about the future, and an embracing of their newfound freedoms, reaffirmed my belief that this migration will serve to enrich our country immensely.
We will continue to work closely with civil society campaigners, and special credit must go to Dr Krish Kandiah, the founder of UKHK.org who has dedicated so much of his time and energy to this cause.
All of us have important roles to play in making Hong Kongers feel welcome, and to support their integration into British society. I am confident that we will step up to the moment and embrace this golden opportunity, and work together in the name of mutual understanding, freedom and cultural enrichment.