Theresa May Backs Down On EU Migrants Rights During Transition
Theresa May has backed down over her initial plans to refuse to allow EU migrants who come into the UK during the transition period, the right to settle permanently.
According to the Guardian, the concession slipped out in a Brexit policy paper by the Home Office, also makes clear that EU migrants who arrive after March 2019 will be given a five-year temporary residence permit, not the two-year one that was previously proposed by ministers.
The policy paper does, however, state that EU migrants who come to live and work in Britain during the transition period will not have the same rights once we leave the EU to bring family to join them. EU nationals already resident in Britain who have secured “settled status” can bring their family over to join them. Those coming during the transition period will have to pass a minimum income threshold test (currently set at £18,600) for British citizens to be eligible to sponsor a family member’s entry into the UK.
Why has the Prime Minister changed her mind?
Many people are wondering why Mrs May has backed down on this issue when she told journalists who accompanied her on her trip to China that she was prepared to “battel the EU on this”.
Writing in the Financial Times, James Blitz gives the following insight:
“One reason [for the change of heart] is that the UK desperately wants the EU to agree to a transition at the European Council later this month. Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, warned a few weeks ago that this was one of the issues that could derail the entire transition deal. So Mrs May was already under pressure to back off.
“But resistance from Brussels was not the sole factor. Jonathan Portes, of think-tank The UK in a Changing Europe, says there were two other issues that made Mrs May's red line unworkable.
"The government has just delayed its planned White Paper on Immigration until the end of this year," Professor Portes says. "That means that we would have been telling EU citizens that they could come here with no restrictions at all in 2019 and 2020, but that there would be no guarantees after that. The inherent uncertainty would have been deeply damaging, especially for companies looking to recruit skilled workers.
“The second factor pushing Mrs May to climb down was that the proposal would have imposed a huge new administrative burden on the Home Office, forcing it to run two different immigrant systems from next March.
"The December EU deal means the Home Office is already committed to implementing an entirely new, streamlined system for EU citizens now living in the UK," says Prof Portes. "They will have to apply either for 'settled status' or for a temporary residence permit that, once they reach five years of residence, will entitle them to settled status.
"Overlaying this already challenging agenda with yet another complex set of administrative processes and new IT systems is the last thing the Home Office needs”.
The Prime Minister’s back down is yet another example of the UK’s ability to bluster very loudly and then, quietly concede to the EU’s (perfectly rationale) demands.
Thankfully, this decision provides further certainty for employers who desperately need to recruit talent from outside the UK but do not have a Tier 2 or 5 Sponsor Licence which enables them to hire from outside the EEA.
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