U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has revealed her plan to give more than 3 million European Union citizens the right to continue living in Britain after Brexit.
She told the British Parliament she wanted to end the, quote, ‘anxiety’ created by Brexit, by offering reassurance.
The Prime Minister’s words were warm and welcoming.
CGTN’s Richard Bestic reports.
All European Union citizens already living legally in Britain, she said, would have the right to remain after the country leaves the EU in March 2019.
“Our offer will give those 3 million EU citizens in the U.K. certainty about the future of their lives, and a reciprocal agreement will provide the same certainty for the more than 1 million U.K. citizens who are living in the European Union,” May said.
Much of the offer made by May had been already outlined and largely rejected at last week’s European Council in Brussels.
The EU Council President Donald Tusk described it as, quote, “below expectations.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it didn’t amount to a “breakthrough.”
The key points of the U.K. proposal include EU nationals in Britain for five years allowed to remain with all the rights of a British citizen, if less than five years at the time of Brexit, will be able to continuing living and working in the country, once five years is up, they can apply for ‘settled status’ and finally family members of EU citizens living outside the UK will be able to return and apply for settled status.
In Brussels, they want that right to be automatic.
Concerns too over the cut-off date and what courts would adjudicate in disputes – whether European or British.
Differences suggesting tough talks ahead.
At home the UK Prime Minister agreed a pact with the 10 members of Parliament from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists, the DUP, to shore up her majority in what critics have called a two billion dollar cash-for-votes deal.
The cost of an election gamble which lost May a Parliamentary majority and left her nursing a minority government.
It’s also a measure of the challenge facing the UK Prime Minister: Fighting to hold her government together on one front and for Brexit in Brussels on the other. Even her most ardent supporters admit it’s a battle which could overwhelm her.