New questions emerged over the weekend about the UK’s system for registering EU migrants after Brexit. While the Government has attempted to reassure that its new “settled status” would allow EU migrants in the UK to continue enjoying the same rights, disagreements are now plain over the fate of future arrivals.
Theresa May, under pressure from immigration hard-liners in her party, has refused to grant EU citizens who arrive in the UK after the UK leaves in March 2019 the same rights as EU migrants already in the country.
May’s position directly contradicts the EU’s demand that the UK maintain equal rights for EU citizens during a potential “transition period.”
May’s position also, apparently, contradicted and “overruled” concerns within the UK Home Office itself. According to Government sources, “Home Office officials wanted the government to guarantee that new arrivals would get the same rights as existing EU citizens during the transition, but were rebuffed by Mrs May.”
The Home Office’s main concern, ignored by the Prime Minister, is that work on a separate registration scheme for EU citizens arriving after March 2019 has “barely begun,” and will thus “almost certainly” not be ready in time.
May’s decision to leave such questions unaddressed is another reminder of just how much remains to be clarified about EU citizens’ rights in post-2019 Britain. It does not provide much reassurance about the Government’s ability to effectively deliver Brexit – an ability that is certain to come under fire in a Home Affairs Committee report, due later this week.