- Theresa May caves to EU pressure on the rights of EU citizens who arrive in Britain during transition.
- The prime minister had planned to give fewer residency rights to citizens arrived during the proposed transition period.
- However, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said this was not acceptable.
- The UK government announced a climbdown on Wednesday afternoon.
LONDON – The UK government has confirmed it no longer intends to restrict the rights of EU citizens who arrive in Britain during the proposed transition period to stay permanently in the UK.
Theresa May has said repeatedly that EU citizens who arrive in Britain during the proposed transition period would receive “different” residency rights to those who arrived prior to Brexit day in March 2019.
She told reporters: “I’m clear there is a difference between those who came prior to us leaving and those who will come when they know the UK is leaving.”
But the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, insisted that the UK would only secure a transition deal if it accepted all EU rules until the end of the transition phase, including contested issues such as free movement rights.
“The United Kingdom must accept all the rules and the conditions right until the end of the transition, and must also accept the inescapable consequences of its decision to leave the European Union,” Barnier told a press conference earlier in February.
“If these disagreements persist, the transition is not a given,” he added.
On Wednesday the UK government published confirmation that it had given into EU demands
In a policy paper published online, the government accepts that:
“EU citizens and their family members will be able to move to the UK during the implementation period on the same basis as they do today, which will be given effect through the Withdrawal Agreement.
“This means that there will be no new constraints on working or studying in the UK in the implementation period. This will also be the case for UK nationals moving to the EU during this period.”
The government does not appear to have completely given into EU demands however. Under these guidelines, EU citizens would not have the same rights to bring over family members after Brexit as those who arrived before the start of the transition.
The Home Affairs committee warned May earlier this month that creating a two-tier immigration system in time for Brexit day is not “feasible” because the department is starved of time, staff and resources.
Under May’s original plans, the Home Office, which the committee said was already “under significant strain” and “in desperate need of greater resources and support,” would be forced to register an additional 230,000 people a year during transition.
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