IRISH ‘WILL NOT HAVE TO APPLY TO STAY AFTER BREXIT’ SAYS MAY
Post-Brexit identity card plans for European citizens living in the UK will NOT extend to Irish people living here, Prime Minister Theresa May publicly pledged in the Commons this week.
Mrs May made her remarks just hours after she formally agreed a pact with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) 10 MPs to support her in the Commons for the rest of this Parliament. She was outlining to MPs for the first time the UK government’s plans for the estimated three million EU citizens resident in this country.
It is the first of three topics (the others being the Ireland’s Border and the size of the financial settlement) that the UK and the EU must make progress on this summer before the talks continue into other matters such as the future relationship between the UK and EU.
Mrs May confirmed that EU citizens living here will have to apply for a “settled status” identity card after Brexit, she said.
All three million EU citizens resident in Britain will have to apply for a “settled status” identity card after Brexit. They will have to apply on-line registering their details with the Home Office.
Those EU citizens who have made their homes in Britain the same “indefinite leave to remain” status as other non-European immigrants who have lived here for five years or more.
Mrs May and UK government officials said they would continue to use the 1949 Ireland Act as the basis of treating Irish as non-foreigners although legal experts have queried whether that statute – assimilated into subsequent legislation such as the 1971 Immigration Act– is still quite relevant.
The document unveiled by Mrs May says explicitly that the government does not want to see any change in the status of Irish citizens living here: “Our proposals as set out below are without prejudice to Common Travel Area arrangements between the UK and Ireland (and the Crown Dependencies), and the rights of British and Irish citizens in each other’s countries rooted in the Ireland Act 1949.
“These arrangements reflect the long-standing social and economic ties between the UK and Ireland and predate both countries’ membership of the EU.
“As such we want to protect the Common Travel Area arrangement, and Irish citizens residing in the UK will not need to apply for settled status to protect their entitlement.
“We have also been clear that our exit will in no way impact on the terms of the Belfast Agreement. We will continue to uphold in that context the rights of the people of Northern Ireland to be able to identify as British or Irish, or both, and to hold citizenship accordingly.”
Announcing the proposals Mrs May told the Commons she had “always been clear” she wanted to protect EU citizens.
“They will be treated as if they were UK citizens…It is important that citizens in the UK are under the jurisdiction of our courts,” she said. “Under these plans, no EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will be asked to leave at the point the UK leaves the EU,” Mrs May said.
She told MPs that those granted settled status, equivalent to having indefinite leave to remain, would be “treated as if they were UK citizens for healthcare, benefits and pensions”.
After Mrs May briefed EU leaders and the President of the European Commission, the EU’s civil service, last Friday on the UK’s plans at a special summit last week, European Council president Donald Tusk said they were “below our expectations” and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, from Luxembourg, said they were “not sufficient”.
Jean-Claude Juncker has shot down Theresa May’s offer on the rights of EU citizens, describing it as “insufficient”. pic.twitter.com/6jsXIrXwcm
— UK News (@UK__News) June 23, 2017
The 150,000 or so EU nationals who have already applied for permanent residence status documents since last year’s referendum will be asked to apply again. But it is promised that it will be easier than the current 85-page Home Office document which has caused such widespread confusion to date.
And they will not be required to show evidence of their own independent, comprehensive sickness insurance. They will lose their existing right to bring in a spouse to live in Britain without meeting an £18,600 minimum income threshold and the protection of the European court of justice, which will no longer have jurisdiction over citizens’ rights in the UK.
As holders of “settled status” they will have the right to live in Britain, undertake any lawful activity, access public funds, apply for British citizenship, and receive social security and National Insurance benefits.
The Home Office said it wants to avoid a “cliff edge” in applications the day after Brexit and so will grant a period of up two years grace for EU nationals who can demonstrate five continuous years of residence in Britain.
The Home Office will assume that all EU citizens in Britain on the yet to be agreed cutoff date will be given temporary leave under British immigration law.
There will be a provision for EU citizens to apply voluntarily before Brexit but it will only be mandatory after the cutoff date. Those who fail to apply within the two-year grace period will no longer have permission to remain in the UK.
Those who arrive before the cut-off date can build up five years’ continuous residence after Brexit but people who arrive after the cut-off point will be subject to the new immigration regime.
Last week in Brussels Mrs May said that no EU citizens lawfully residing in the UK will have to leave and families will not be split up.