Prime Minister Theresa May set out an outline of her proposal at a private dinner with other EU leaders in Brussels which was not on camera but made it clear that that EU nationals legally living in the UK for at least 5 years, would be granted ‘UK settled status’.
More information is due to be revealed in a government paper being published on Monday, although much will remain subject to negotiation.
WHAT WE DO KNOW:
It is not yet clear exactly what rights those people would be entitled to as yet but it is understood they would get education, health, benefits and pension rights for life, which is what those with permanent settled status can expect at the moment also.
It is understood no EU national currently resident in the UK would have to leave at the point of Brexit. Mrs May has said no-one would face a “cliff edge” and describes her plan as “a fair and serious offer, one 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 nationals who have not yet reached five years lawful stay in the UK, would be entitled to stay on until they reach the threshold for settled status and it is understood that those arriving after an as-yet-unspecified cut-off date would be given a “grace period” – expected to be two years – to obtain a work permit or return to their home countries.
However, the offer is not unilateral – it is dependent on UK citizens living abroad getting a reciprocal deal from other EU states.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW:
Until further information is released, we know little.
For how long would this deal apply? There seems to be some dispute over the “cut-off” date. The UK has suggested it could be anywhere between March 2017, when it triggered Article 50, the formal process of leaving the EU, and March 2019 when it will formally leave.
Will rights under the new “settled” UK immigration status apply to non-EU family members? Mrs May has said she does not want to see families split up, but without the full detail it is not clear who would get the status.
European Council President Donald Tusk said the plan was “below expectations” while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there had been “no breakthrough”.
The Prime Minister has said those who had “made their lives and homes” in the UK would have their rights guaranteed.
She also suggested that while rights would be enforced by British courts, they could also be enshrined in international law if the agreement was included in the final treaty of withdrawal.
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