Government committee calls for clarification on post Brexit right to remain

Published:  28 Jul at 6 PM
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Uncertainty about the present and post-Brexit status of British expats in EU member states and EU citizens in the UK is becoming a contentious issue, according to a parliamentary report.

The lack of clarity as regards the status of Brits overseas and EU expats in the UK has continued since before the referendum and is now causing both groups to fear they may be used as pawns in the political game. EU citizens living and working in Britain as well as several million Brit expats living in Europe have been given no clear indication as to which way the expected axe will fall.

Chair of the Home Affairs Committee Keith Vas believes migration is the most important issue resulting from the Brexit vote. The committee’s report predicts a surge in immigration during the negotiation period, and stresses the government must prepare for the bureaucratic nightmare likely as a result.

Vas noted a ‘clear lack of certainty’ in government as regards the position of UK citizens living in EU member states and EU citizens living in the UK. There are, he said, three suggested cut-off dates, and should the government fail to make a firm decision, the likelihood of an immigration surge will increase. The present flow of ministerial opinions and multiple voices, he added, only ramp up the present uncertainty and should stop.

The committee’s proposed cut-off dates are 23 June, the date on which Article 50 is triggered or the date on which the UK finally leaves the EU after negotiations have ended. Following the chosen cut-off date, EU citizens already living in Britain should receive the right of permanent residency at the chosen cut-off point, after which new immigration laws will apply.

According to a government spokesperson, it’s clear that Britain should protect the status of EU nationals already in the country. However, should the rights of British citizens in EU member states not be protected, allowing EU nationals those rights in the UK would not be possible.

At the same time, current media reports suggest Theresa May is planning to scrutinise student immigration visas as a way to limit net migration, suggesting education visas are an easy route to residency for economic migrants. Britain’s universities are unlikely to appreciate the plan, as revenue from overseas students is compensating for losses caused by UK students’ financially-motivated decisions to study abroad.
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