Wednesday

1st Dec 2021

UK might not protect rights of EU nationals

  • Brexit minister David Davis says a cut-off date for EU nationals staying Britain could set off a wave of new arrivals (Photo: Jason)

The UK might not guarantee the right to remain in Britain for EU nationals arriving between now and the official exit from the EU, the minister for the exit negotiations, David Davis said on Sunday (17 June).

Davis told the Mail on Sunday he aimed to negotiate a "a generous settlement for EU migrants here now and a generous settlement for British citizens in the EU".

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But he also suggested the introduction of a retrospective cut-off date for EU nationals arriving now to Britain, if there is a surge in arrivals.

"We may have to say that the right to indefinite leave to remain protection only applies before a certain date. But you have to make those judgements on reality, not speculation," he told the newspaper, adding that it remains to be seen if there is a surge in new arrivals.

He added it might not be possible to warn in advance when this date might come, as it depends on the possible wave of new arrivals.

He said he did not want to set a date now, arguing that could start a rush to the UK.

As the UK does not have to trigger the official exit procedure yet, it will have to stick to the EU's principle of freedom of movement, one of the key issues in the negotiations with the EU.

Davis told Sky News on Sunday that triggering article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty should happen early next year.

New British prime minister Theresa May was the only candidate for the ruling Conservative Party's leadership who did not commit to guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals currently living and working in the UK.

The government has argued that it would be "unwise" to fully guarantee EU citizens' rights without a reciprocal deal for 1.2 million Britons living in other EU countries.

No border with Scotland

While May said during a visit to Scotland on Friday (15 July) that she would wait for a UK-wide approach before triggering article 50, Scotland has not ruled out an independence referendum.

Scots have voted for remaining in the EU, while the overall count in the UK was in favour of leaving the bloc.

Scottish politicians have been pushing for safeguards that they would be part of the exit negotiations, and securing strong ties with the EU even after Brexit.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Sunday she would consider a second referendum on Scottish independence in the first half of next year if necessary.

She told the BBC that could happen if the UK government started the formal process of leaving the EU without Scotland's position being safeguarded.

She suggested that Scotland could stay in the UK and the EU, something Davis has dismissed.

Talking to Sky, Davis said: “I don’t think that works.”

He added: “One of our really challenging issues to deal with will be the internal border we have with southern Ireland, and we are not going to go about creating other internal borders inside the United Kingdom.”

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