Published: Tue, June 27, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Theresa May details post-Brexit plans for European Union citizens in UK

Theresa May details post-Brexit plans for European Union citizens in UK

EU's chief negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier took a first go at the UK's proposal on citizens rights, shortly after United Kingdom prime minister Theresa May presented the British proposal to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.

- Those EU citizens who became resident before the specified date but who have not accrued five years' continuous residence at the time of the UK's exit will be able to apply for temporary status in order to remain resident in the United Kingdom until they have accumulated five years. "We want you to stay", she told parliament.

Dependents who join a relative here before Brexit will be able to apply for settled status after five years.

TRT World's Simon McGregor-Wood has more from London.

The UK prime minister had hoped to secure an early agreement on the principles of her approach when she offered it to European Union leaders last week, but the cool response during the summit in Brussels failed to get any warmer with the production of a 15-page document on Monday afternoon.

And EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Monday that Britain needs to offer EU citizens living there "more ambition, clarity and guarantees" on their post-Brexit rights than it has proposed.

However she has made clear that the proposals would be adopted if the same rights are granted to United Kingdom citizens living in the remaining 27 European Union states in a reciprocal settlement.

And May was heckled in parliament as opposition lawmakers accused her of using Europeans as "bargaining chips" by refusing to guarantee their rights until a reciprocal deal is struck for around one million Britons living elsewhere in the EU.

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Those Europeans arriving after the cut-off date will be given a "grace period", likely two years, to apply for another form of immigration status allowing them to legally reside in Britain, such as a work permit.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's main opposition Labour Party, said May's reduced stature after losing her parliamentary majority in an election on June 8, meant that she could no longer wring out a good deal for Britain from the EU.

Amid concerns that the interior ministry will not be able to process all the claims before Brexit, EU nationals will be given a "period of blanket residence permission" until all documents are issued.

"I believe it's a generous offer", she said, adding that it would provide "reassurance and certainty".

A 15-page document giving a point-by-point explanation of the proposals said Britain would allow current immigrants from the European Union to retain healthcare and other benefits that are more generous than those given to migrants from elsewhere.

But spouses moving after Brexit will be subject to the same rules that now apply to non-EU nationals joining British citizens, which require the British citizen to meet a minimum income allowance.

May added that the cut-off date will be the subject of discussions, but will be no earlier than March 29 2017 and no later than March 29 2019, the date Britain is scheduled to leave the EU.

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