LONDON — Theresa May blocked David Cameron’s attempts to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, following last year’s referendum, it has been reported.
Cameron, who was prime minister at the time, tried to get his cabinet to agree to assure EU citizens of their right to stay in the UK, but May, then home secretary, refused to agree.
In an Evening Standard editorial on Friday afternoon, it was revealed that May “insisted on blocking” the “unilateral offer” for people from other EU states in the UK.
The Evening Standard is edited by George Osborne, who would have been present in cabinet as Cameron’s chancellor at the time after the referendum, and was a key ally of the then prime minister. The paper has been a strong critic of May since Osborne took over earlier this year. Osborne was removed as Chancellor after May became PM>
The Standard claims May was the only cabinet member at the time to oppose granting the right to stay to EU citizens immediately.
The editorial calls on May to “announce unilaterally that any Europeans who are living here will be able to remain here… it would be, as we said before, an act of national self-interest dressed up as a gesture of international generosity.”
On Thursday evening, the prime minister made what she called a “fair and serious” offer to EU leaders, guaranteeing their right to stay in the UK, as long the EU does the same for British expats.
EU citizens who have been living in the UK for at least 5 years would be given “settled status,” allowing them full rights to pensions, healthcare, education, and benefits.
While German chancellor Angela Merkel called the proposal “a good start,” fellow European leaders have not been as complimentary. Jean Claude-Juncker, the president of the European Commission said “that is a first step but this step is not sufficient,” and the Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel called the offer “particularly vague.”
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