A former town mayor who has lived in the UK since 1979 has been denied British citizenship by the Home Office.
Inga Lockington, who is originally from Denmark, has lived in the UK since her marriage to Dr Tim Lockington, when she said she was granted leave to remain for an indefinite period.
Mrs Lockington moved to Ipswich with her family in the mid 1990s, where she was elected as a Lib Dem borough councillor in 1999 and a Suffolk county councillor in 2001.
She has held these seats ever since, and served as Ipswich mayor for a year from 2007.
I don’t want special treatment but I do think that all applicants, including those from EU citizens, should be treated fairly
Mrs Lockington said she decided to apply for UK citizenship after the Brexit vote in 2016, spending £1,282 to make her application.
The Home Office rejected the application, citing lack of evidence that she was permanently resident in the UK, and have refunded her £80.
“I don’t want special treatment but I do think that all applicants, including those from EU citizens, should be treated fairly,” said Mrs Lockington.
“Luckily for me, I have not been told to leave yet – but who knows what will happen after Brexit? I just want some security and peace of mind.”
The letter Mrs Lockington received from the Home Office states: “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 on the date of your application for naturalisation and it has been refused.”
Councillor Andrew Stringer – leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group at Suffolk County Council – said the decision was “utterly outrageous”.
He added: “How can a public servant, who was elected Mayor of Ipswich and has dedicated 19 years of her life to the people of Ipswich and Suffolk, be denied British citizenship?
“If Inga can’t satisfy the Home Office that she should qualify for citizenship, then I don’t see how anybody else stands a chance.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We respect Mrs Lockington’s public service and are happy to discuss the various routes to citizenship available to her.”