Friday 23 June
The Prime Minister made a giant step towards independence at the EU summit last night when she made a “fair and serious offer” European leaders over the rights of the three million EU citizens living in the UK.
On condition of Brussels offering the same rights and privileges to Britons living in the bloc, EU who lived in the UK for five years or more will be granted permanent residency rights. An offer described by the Theresa May as “aimed at giving as much certainty as possible to citizens who have settled in the UK, building careers and lives and contributing so much to our society.”
EU citizens moving to the UK from the time of Britain’s EU withdrawal notice until Brexit will be permitted to remain in the EU between two and five years. Whether it is the shorter or longer period depends on the date of a “cut-off” point that is up for negotiation.
The British position will be fully outlined in a document to be released on Monday. Other than the cut-off date, the likely subject of negotiation is the judicial system presiding over EU citizens’ rights. The European Union insists its Court the ECJ should retain oversight. May and her team argue (rightly) there is no reason for a supranational court to be involved. Rather cryptically, Angela Merkel described May’s offer as “a good start”.
The three million EU citizens will share the same rights as Britons, access to the NHS, pensions and welfare. May’s expected move comes a day after data released by the Office for National Statistics revealed that a whopping 62% of population growth is accounted for by immigration. Whatever twists await in the showdown between Britain and Brussels over residency rights, our ability to stem the flow of migration is unlikely to be restored until 2021.