British officials have conceded that any EU migrants arriving before Brexit Day in 2019 will be allowed to stay forever, it is claimed.
Sources have told The Telegraph newspaper that they believe a deal between Britain and the EU is now “done and dusted”, after the former agreed that any EU migrants arriving in Britain before its formal departure from the bloc will be allowed to acquire “settled status”.
Prime Minister Theresa May had previously indicated that March 2017, when the UK activated Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to begin the Brexit process, would be the cut-off date — leading to a reduction in immigration from the EU and an increase in local hiring and starting salaries.
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) August 11, 2017
Now there are fears that this latest British concession could spark an influx to the country, particularly with Croatia, the EU’s newest member-state, being due to win full Free Movement rights in June 2018.
The UK does have the option of extending restrictions on Free Movement from Croatia for two years, which would carry it beyond the cut-off — although not beyond the end of Mrs. May’s proposed “transition period”, during which Free Movement would continue to apply.
The Croatian government has been pressuring the EU hard to make sure the UK does not extend restrictions beyond June 2018, in any case.
— David Grossman (@davidgrossman) December 15, 2016
The Telegraph also reports that uncertainty over the future of EU migrants in Britain and British expats in the EU has persisted for as long as it has because the EU has deliberately stalled a deal in order to try and wring a larger divorce bill from London.
“The fear was that if the EU settled the citizens’ rights file, it would open the EU to suggestions from the British side that the EU was being unfairly intransigent on the money side. The decision was taken to stall,” said one source.
This decision has led to the EU taking issue with some rather unusual points. For example, their negotiating team has been fighting for the right of EU nationals with serious criminal convictions to be allowed to claim “settled status” in Britain, while the British government had tried to exclude them from the deal due to the obvious public safety risk they pose.