One of the the European Union’s most powerful people said UK criticism over the 28-nation bloc’s handling of Brexit negotiations has “nothing to do with reality.”
Donald Tusk, who is the European Council president, responded to a letter that was signed by 81 politicians, led by Conservative MP Michael Tomlinson, which said the EU Commission was “standing in the way” of a “reciprocal” deal on what happens to EU migrants coming to the UK as well as the rights of Britons living abroad.
He said that this has “nothing to do with reality” because official Brexit talks have not started yet and they will not until Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50 and starts the formal two-year negotiation process.
He added, in response to the letter, according to the BBC:
“Just like you, I would like to avoid a situation where citizens become ‘bargaining chips’ in the negotiation process. In order for this not to happen, we will need precise and comprehensive solutions, which, other than nice-sounding expressions, will provide citizens with genuine guarantees of security.”
4.5 million Britons live abroad but only 1.3 million of them live in Europe, according to United Nations data — primarily in Spain, Ireland, and France.
EU migrants coming to the UK has risen over the last few years and from Poland in particular. In August this year, data from the Office for National Statistics showed that Poland overtook India as the most common non-UK country of birth for people living in Britain for the first time. That data showed that there were 831,000 Polish-born residents in Britain in 2015, 750,000 more than a decade earlier.
The British government is putting immigration control at the forefront of Brexit talks and also pushing for single market access. In other words, it wants the benefits of the unified trading conditions but it wants to opt out of the clause that enables all EU citizens to freely roam across each others borders.
However, this also brings up the question over what will happen to the rights of Britons living in the EU.