European Union (EU) migrants arriving during the agreed so-called “Brexit transition period” will not automatically be allowed to stay in the UK indefinitely, ministers have been privately claiming.
Just over a week ago, it was reported that Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, had drawn up guidelines demanding mass migration continues after Brexit, contradicting an agreement struck with the UK in December.
“The deal in December did specify March 2019 for free movement rights. That was then. Now as part of the discussion on transitional arrangements that has changed,” an EU source said at the time.
The UK had initially wanted the cut-off date to be the day of the Brexit vote in 2016, and the EU’s shifting stance caused alarm among Brexit supporters.
Then, last week, a report claimed that if the prime minister caved to the EU’s new demands, over a million more migrants could come to live in the UK.
Formal negotiations are due to continue next week, and the UK government will set out its transition period proposals later this week.
In an attempt to calm backbench concerns that the prime minister will bow to the EU on the issue, ministers have been privately contacting Tory MPs, claiming that they are holding firm.
According to The Times, they have told them the recent statements from EU on migrants and the transition period only reflect their “negotiating position” and should not be taken as final.
Brexit Secretary Says Talks Will ‘Probably Favour’ EU
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 1, 2017
However, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt has reportedly said the bloc will not budge on the issue of “citizens’ rights” and other EU negotiators expect the UK to back down on the issue to secure agreements in other areas.
European courts have already ruled that EU citizens who become British should have more rights than other Britons to bring in spouses from outside the bloc to live in the UK after Brexit.
Depending on negotiations, those courts could continue having the final say on who stays past 2019.
The bloc also wants Europeans to be able to bring non-European spouses, who they might have not even met yet, to the UK during the transition period, and for those arriving to be able to access the right to stay indefinitely.
The current agreement, struck in December, only guarantees the “current rights of spouses, registered partners, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren and a person in a durable relationship”.