European migrants arriving in Britain could lose their right to stay permanently from next month under plans reportedly being drawn up by Prime Minister Theresa May.
May is apparently poised to announce that EU citizens who travel to Britain after she triggers Article 50 will no longer have the automatic right to stay in the UK permanently, the Telegraph reports.
She is expected to say EU migrants who arrived in the UK before a “cut-off date,” thought to be March 15 when the government’s Article 50 bill has gone through parliament, will have their rights protected as long as British citizens living elsewhere are also granted the same assurance.
The plan could mean Britons’ right to move to European nations could be taken away from next month also. The top destinations for British expats in the EU are Spain, host to around 419,000, Ireland at 249,000 and France at 171,000.
Iain Duncan Smith, a Euroskeptic Tory MP, told the newspaper such an announcement will show May is taking control of Britain’s borders and giving clarity to the 3.6 million EU migrants already living in the UK.
“Theresa understands that if you want to take control you have to command the high ground. She will be giving clarity by setting a clear deadline while the European Union looks increasingly muddled and mean-spirited.”
May is expected to appeal to other EU countries to reach a quick deal on the status of British nationals living in the EU, so that the issue is removed from negotiations as soon as possible.
Home Office lawyers have dismissed calls to use the referendum date in June last year as the cut-off, warning it could lead to court action by migrants whose right under EU law has been taken away.
The EU has been pushing for May to make the cut-off date for migrants 2019, but UK ministers have raised concerns that waiting until the end of negotiations will lead to a huge surge in the number of EU migrants coming to Britain before Brexit.
A Whitehall source told the Daily Mail a final decision had not been taken on when the cut-off date would be.
“Setting a retrospective date is fraught with legal problems and if you set a date two years into the future, you are giving people who might be considering coming here an awful lot of notice.
“So it makes a lot of sense to do it at or around the point when we trigger Article 50 next month.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd told ITV on Sunday after Britain leaves the EU “we will be ending free movement as we know it.”
Rudd is looking at a “range of options” for EU migrants coming to the UK. One is giving new arrivals who get jobs in key sectors of the economy multi-year visas while limiting their access to benefits.
Secretary of State for Leaving the EU David Davis has previously suggested Britain will not suddenly shut the door on workers coming from the EU. It would take “years and years” for Britain to fill all the jobs that would have otherwise been done by EU migrants, he said.
While the UK has reached agreements in principle with most members of the EU, there are still several nations, including Germany, which have refused to discuss the issue until after Brexit is triggered.