All EU migrants can stay in UK after Brexit – reports

Theresa May holds a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's country retreat Chequers in Buckinghamshire to discuss department-by-department Brexit action plans, Britain August 31, 2016 © Stefan Rousseau
EU nationals currently living in the UK will be able to stay after Brexit is finalized in 2019, a report citing government sources says. Over two-thirds of those currently in the UK will have residency permits by then, and the rest will get amnesty.

As Britain negotiates its cumbersome exit from the EU, many questions continue to pop up, and the Home Office has discovered that some five out of six EU nationals will not be eligible for deportation by the time the UK finally leaves, the Telegraph reported, citing sources in the Cabinet. Of the 3.6 million EU nationals currently residing in the UK, some 80 percent will have gained permanent residency rights by the time Britain is formerly out of the EU.

The Telegraph also learned that the remaining 600,000 “will of course, be allowed to stay in the UK” – a move Cabinet ministers say might prove unpopular with some at home, given how it could lead to a surge in EU nationals moving to Britain now in hopes of staying after Brexit.

“That’s a given. We just need to work out exactly how we do it,” a senior source said. A different source told the paper “it is important that reciprocal agreements are made with the EU to ensure that British people abroad get the same rights.”

The reports come amid Prime Minister Theresa May’s refusal to provide any official legal guarantees, arguing that the government would unnecessarily “reveal its hand” too early ahead of the negotiations that are to start in March of 2017. She also said earlier that the legal treatment of EU nationals in the UK post-Brexit will depend on how Britons are treated in the EU.

Official calculations suggest that it would be difficult to get rid of the majority EU immigrants in Britain by the 2019 deadline, given that, according to UK rules, any EU citizen who has lived there for a period of no less than five years can be granted permanent residency.

As for fears of a large influx of EU citizens into Britain, officials have said the British government may announce a cut-off date for new arrivals beyond which amnesty would not apply. The sources have made clear that the amnesty plan is currently in its infancy.

The Telegraph’s report comes amid fearful prognoses that a crackdown on immigration would result in the UK being understaffed, particularly in areas like healthcare.  The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found in its monthly review last week that, despite the slowly rising number of permanent hirings in September, many positions in various fields, from accounting to architecture, would be left empty, and the trend has been increasing.

According to the REC, the temporary hiring sector would also experience setbacks in positions related to construction, electricity, and call centers. The projected shortages are attributed to fears that EU workers’ rights will be hit by Brexit next year, especially given May’s promise to take a tougher stance on immigration.

The REC has shown that, despite the fears, the number of EU nationals working in the UK has been on the rise in recent years, making the country increasingly dependent on foreign labor.

In addition, there are persistent fears that a ‘hard Brexit’ from Europe would pull the UK out of the single market, causing significant disruptions in the British economy. The British pound has already fallen 13 percent against the US dollar since Britain’s vote to leave the EU in June.