Multiple reports claim post Brexit expats legal status a mess

Published:  21 Feb at 6 PM
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As the legal problems facing UK and EU expats after Brexit become more acute, multiple media reports suggest the British government will face huge headaches.

UK citizens living in EU member states as well as EU nationals in Britain are due to be mired in a terrifying legal quagmire as regards their rights, according to the Financial Times. The comment was quoted as coming from an anonymous senior Brexit negotiator, and brings into focus the UK’s need to agree a policy covering every issue from the rights of British-born children of EU expatriate parents through pensions, heathcare, permanent residency and more.

The British government’s continuing assurance that the plight of both expat categories is high on the list of Brexit negotiation priorities is beginning to sound as meaningless as Theresa May’s oft-repeated phrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’. Although both the EU and UK have repeatedly signalled their commitment to the protection of expats’ rights, the necessary reciprocal deal isn’t even on the table as an idea and is expected to be the focus of a battle between the two sides.

On Sunday, a leaked report published in the Observer voiced the possibility that, post-Brexit, EU expatriates would be left in legal limbo. According to the British Home Secretary, those wishing to stay in the UK will need to have documentation, but Britain’s lack of a migration register is likely to leave many of the 3.3 million EU expats in a legal grey area. According to Oxford’s Migration Observatory, immediate registration of all EU expats would be the equivalent of the past 140 years of residency applications, and would break down the already unstable Home Office system in short order.

In addition, another leaked EU report published in the Guardian last week noted Brits living in EU member states could fall victims to a backlash by EU lawmakers should Britain fail to allow European nationals the right to remain in the UK. At the same time, a report published late January noted the possibility of a million–strong UK expat exodus from Spain and France back to the UK, stressing the chaos which would be caused in public services, the NHS and various government departments.
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