In a confusing week on the topic of immigration, the government seemed to U-turn on what plans could look like for EU citizens coming into the UK.
The “work is ongoing,” Theresa May’s spokesman said, after the home secretary and a senior Home Office civil servant contradicted each other within 24 hours.
Said Javid said there would have to be a “sensible transition period” for EU arrivals but just a day earlier his official said free movement would be “turned off.”
With the Brexit deadline just five months away, EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU are eager for reassurance on what their fate looks like after Brexit.
What could happen in a no-deal Brexit?
In theory, a deal on UK citizens in the EU and vice versa has already been agreed upon.
On the government’s website, it states: “The Prime Minister has been clear that safeguarding the rights of UK nationals in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK was her first priority for the negotiations.
“This is a commitment that we have delivered.”
This is all good and well, and will be written into law if – and this is a big ‘if’ – the rest of the deal is decided.
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At this current stage of negotiations, the worry is that the sticking points – namely the Irish border and the backstop – could derail things entirely, leaving the UK crashing out on March 29.
Currently, the plan is that during the transition period – running from March 29 till the end of 2020 at least – EU citizens arriving in the UK would enjoy the same rights and guarantees as those who arrive beforehand.
The same would apply to UK expats on the continent.
But, if there’s no deal, we won’t have this transition period.
While it would technically be possible in this case for expects to be adrift ‘illegals’ in their chosen home, this is very, very unlikely.
More likely is a ‘tapered’ approach, whereby governments incrementally implement new citizenship laws.
Express.co.uk spoke to Gary McIndoe, specialist immigration solicitor and managing director of immigration law firm, Latitude Law to try pick through this complicated topic.
He said: “If the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, our immigration system is unlikely to suffer immediate and catastrophic failures; in the way that international logistics, banking, and aviation could.”
But Mr McIndoe said there are two main significant challenges which need to prioritised by the government.
The first is “the every-day movement of people into the UK from the EU.”
This would encompass everything from pre-booked holidays, work visas, and border controls.
“The second, longer-term issue is how EU workers are treated and what kind of visa they will be able to obtain,” said Mr McIndoe.
“Given the cabinet’s agreement that skilled workers will be treated preferentially to EU workers, it seems unlikely now that there will be a generic ‘EU’ visa, regardless of whether the government reaches a deal.
“Instead, the integration of EU workers into the existing visa scheme appears to be the most probable outcome.”
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