Every EU migrant can stay in UK after Brexit
All EU nationals currently living in Britain (3.6m) will be allowed to stay following Brexit, after the Home Office discovered that five in six could not legally be deported.
London , United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland - 9 Oct 2016 - Financial Times
All EU nationals currently living in Britain will be allowed to stay following Brexit, after the Home Office discovered that five in six could not legally be deported.
There are around 3.6 million EU citizens living in the UK, more than 80 per cent of whom will have permanent residency rights by the time Britain leaves the union in early 2019, official research has concluded.
The remainder – more than 600,000 people – will be offered an amnesty, with several Cabinet ministers telling The Telegraph that those citizens will be offered the right to stay permanently, in a policy that may prove controversial.
Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has refused to guarantee the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK, saying she believes that the Government must not “reveal its hand” ahead of Brexit negotiations, which will begin when she triggers Article 50 next year.Once an EU citizen has been in the UK for more than five years, they are given permanent residency rights.
Home Office research has concluded that when Britain leaves the EU, just over 80 per cent of EU citizens in the UK will qualify for residency, sources said. “The remaining people will, of course, be allowed to stay in the UK,” a senior source said.
“That’s a given. We just need to work out exactly how we do it.”
Another Cabinet source said: “They will be allowed to remain in Britain. But it is important that reciprocal agreements are made with the EU to ensure that British people abroad get the same rights.”
Although Cabinet ministers are privately giving assurances that they will all be allowed to stay in the country after Brexit, the Home Office is still working on a way to identify the exact number of Europeans living in the UK and establish how long they have been here. The amnesty plan is in its infancy and will raise fears that EU migrants could begin travelling to the UK in large numbers before Brexit .
Some officials believe the Government will, therefore, have to announce a cut-off date for new arrivals after which the amnesty would not apply. The health department is also conducting a major study on arrangements with Spain to allow British expats to get free medical treatment abroad.
Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, was criticised this week after saying that the status of EU nationals living in Britain is “one of our main cards” in the Brexit negotiations and cannot be guaranteed.
He said: “The Prime Minister has made it very clear – we would like to be able to give a reassurance to EU nationals in the United Kingdom, but that depends on reciprocation by other countries.“
I think we would all hope that what we get is a totally open, reciprocal agreement where UK citizens in other European countries are free and welcome to stay there, as would those who have already settled in the UK.
But again, as the Prime Minister said, to give that away before we get into the negotiation would be to hand over one of our main cards in that negotiation and doesn’t necessarily make sense at this point.” As many as 1.6 million EU citizens resident in the UK come from the so-called EU14, those nations that were part of the EU before 2004, followed by 1.5 million from the eight Eastern European nations that joined 12 years ago.
Europe had been running the world’s biggest open-air social-science experiment for the past two decades. In 1993, as a culmination of attempts to forge a united Europe after millennia of war, the EU not only gave birth to itself but it also quietly created—without much discussion of what it would mean—the entirely new concept of European citizenship.
Under the Maastricht Treaty, European citizenship exists “over and above national citizenship. Every citizen who is a national of a member state is also a citizen of the union.” Not everyone in the EU realizes this, but it is true. Citizenship of the EU confers a series of rights, including the unprecedented ability to live and work anywhere in the EU indefinitely. With that comes legal parity with national citizens on everything, bar the right to vote in general elections. That means there have been two types of foreigner in EU member states—the European and the non-European.
What’s more, the European immigrant doesn’t think of himself as an immigrant. He thinks of himself as a European—equal with the local citizens. This can lead to some very strange moments. In the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, the Labour MP Stella Creasy recalled a moment during the campaigning in her London constituency:
I recently read a story where a Somali woman racially abused a Hungarian woman, shouting at her that her daughter couldn’t get a job and that she should go back to the country where she came from. In that story, everyone was seeing different things. The native British MP saw two foreigners, fighting. The Somali saw her years of sacrifice to make her daughter British being destroyed by a foreigner. And the Hungarian lady, in all possibility, saw herself as a European in Europe, being abused by a foreigner.
Most Europeans living in Britain probably thought they were in a country full of people who saw themselves as Europeans, too. The Brexit vote revealed that this wasn’t the case at all. This has profound implications not just for Britain, and not just the European project, but for everyone who wonders what citizenship means in a world full of tribes living among each other.
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