LONDON — Brexit secretary David Davis is reportedly planning to make a “very generous” offer on post-Brexit rights for the three million EU citizens who live in the UK.
British officials travel to Brussels on Thursday ahead of the start of formal talks on Monday. The Financial Times reports that Davis will offer EU nationals the same rights they currently have and aim to treat them “as fairly as they have been to this point.”
Davis hopes for the EU to agree to a cut-off date for those rights on March 29 this year, when the UK gave its formal notification of Brexit.
In return for the guarantee, Davis expects Brussels to drop its demand that EU citizens in the UK will retain access to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to uphold their rights in Britain. The UK intends to leave the ECJ after Brexit.
Prime Minister Theresa May and senior cabinet colleagues have previously refused to guarantee the right to remain to EU nationals living in the UK.
Trade minister Liam Fox described EU nationals in the UK as one of the government’s “main bargaining chips” in upcoming negotiations, and May argued that the UK would be left “high and dry” in negotiations by guaranteeing the rights of European nationals without receiving similar assurances for UK nationals living in the EU.
Following last week’s disastrous election, however, the government’s mandate to pursue a hardline approach to Brexit appears to have been fatally weakened, with Chancellor Philip Hammond is ready to use a speech at Mansion House on Thursday to warn the prime minister against a “hard” exit from the EU.
Davis appears keen to use the residency rights issue to show that his Whitehall team — said to be in chaos following two high-profile departures last week — is ready to negotiate with the EU, and has the mandate to do so following the loss of a Conservative majority at last week’s election.
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