Employees worried about being kicked out looking to become UK citizens

The architecture practice of Richard Rogers has said a large number of its non-UK employees are looking to become British citizens to head off the threat of being thrown out of the country because of Brexit.

Last month, Rogers (pictured) was one of a number of high-profile architects to tell the government they were “appalled” at the way EU staff in their offices are being kept in the dark about their status following last year’s EU referendum.

The open letter, also signed by Amanda Levete, Will Alsop, Eric Parry and Farshid Moussavi, asked that Theresa May give immediate clarity on their future and warned against the prime minister using EU nationals working and living in the UK as a “negotiating chip” in Brexit negotiations.

In a note accompanying its latest report and accounts, Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners said Brexit would herald a “period of readjustment” and added: “We are already seeing this in terms of our staffing, with a significant portion of our non-UK staff seeking to naturalise and obtain UK passports where possible.”

The firm doesn’t break down the number of EU staff it has on its books but, according to its accounts, the company employs just over 200 people from 30 countries.

It added: “This ability to attract the best talent may now be hampered by the consequences of the Brexit vote.”

The UK began formal Brexit negotiations with the EU yesterday with the rights of EU citizens living in the UK one of top priorities of the talks.

About 3.2 million non-British EU citizens live in the UK with the UK government agreeing that protecting citizens’ rights needs to be tackled early in the talks. But it has resisted calls to give unilateral guarantees to EU citizens living in the UK.

RSHP works in 17 different countries across the globe and its schemes around the world include a museum in Washington DC and a new terminal building at Taoyuan Airport in Taiwan. In the spring, the firm won a deal to extend the British Library at St Pancras.

More than half of the firm’s turnover is from outside the UK with business here accounting for 45% of revenue.

The firm, which moved into the Leadenhall Building it designed at the end of 2015, said turnover in the year to June 2016 slipped to £32.2 million from £34.9 million with pre-tax profits falling close to 9% to £6.9 million. It added that it expects revenue in its current financial year to “decline marginally”.

The accounts include the results of the limited liability partnership the firm set up six years ago under a group restructure. Those accounts show the LLP business has 12 members, including Rogers, Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour, with each member picking up an average of just under £523,000 – down from £740,000.