Outlook positive for post-Brexit expat rights

The outlook is positive for British expats hoping to retain their rights to live in the EU post-Brexit.

Negotiators are reportedly on the cusp of reaching an agreement for the reciprocal rights of Brits to live and work in the European Union. Senior officials are said to have assured business leaders that there are now just “a few” of the EU’s 27 member states still to agree a rough outline for a reciprocal rights deal that would allow Brits to live in the EU and for EU nationals to live in the UK.

The issue has been one of much debate since June’s referendum result, particularly given the concerns surrounding immigration levels that were a prominent part of voting to leave the EU. It soon became apparent after the result, though, that for Brits to retain their rights to live and move within the EU, it would have to be on a reciprocal basis.

The government has insisted that no formal deals have been struck yet – indeed, Britain has not yet triggered Article 50, with Prime Minister Theresa May previously indciating that this will be done in March 2017, officially beginning the period of negotiations between the country and the EU.

A representative told The Telegraph that it was still too early to guarantee rights of EU and British expats.

“The Government has been clear that it wants to see this issue resolved, as long as that can be done in both directions,” the unnamed source told the paper.

Ms. May has already announced that wants to make an early agreement on the status of both EU nationals residing in the UK and Brits living overseas, so that businesses and individuals can both plan their future with certainty. Indeed, there are more than 3 million EU nationals living in Britain, with just over 1 million British expats living in the EU, primarily in Spain, Ireland and France.

However, Ms. May is also keen to keep cards close to the government’s chest, so that the country’s negotiating position is not weakened.


Brexit: UK rules out points-based immigration

5th September 2016

The UK has officially ruled out a points-based system of immigration for the country after leaving the EU.

The issue of immigration has been one of the central topics of debate throughout the Brexit process, with the campaign for Britain to Leave the EU firmly focusing on taking back control of the UK’s borders as one of the benefits of voting for Brexit. One of the proposed systems for UK immigration was a points-based system, modelled after the one used by Australia. Newly elected Prime Minister Theresa May, though, has now confirmed that this will not be introduced.

May, who is attending the G20 summit in Hangzhou this week, gave a press conference in which she commented on the country’s future outside of the EU. May reiterated that the UK government would respect and honour the Brexit vote in the recent EU referendum, but dismissed Vote Leave’s proposal for a system that would be based on allowing skilled workers into the country. Instead, she said that such a system would allow anyone who met the criteria to enter the UK, which would not give the government control over numbers.

Leaving the EU would give the UK “some control”, she explained, which experts have taken to indicate any restrictions would only be partial.

“What we will now have an ability to do, which we haven’t had before, is when we come out of the EU, we will be able to have some control on movement of people coming from the EU into the UK, which of course was one element over which we weren’t able to have control before.”

She told the press of a visit to Heathrow to talk to Border Force staff.

“We said to them, ‘What’s the most important thing that we can focus on?’ And they said, ‘You need to look at the issue of students who come here, who appear to have met the criteria, they don’t speak English, they don’t know which institution they are going to and they don’t know what course it is they’re doing’. So the system is being abused. But because they met the criteria, they were automatically allowed in. And that’s the problem with the points-based system. I want a system when the government is able to decide who comes into the country. I think that’s what the British people want. A points-based system means that people come in automatically if they just meet the criteria.”

May said that were “various [alternative] ways” for the government to control immigration, adding: “We will be coming forward in due course with proposals.”

Her comments were followed by David Davis, the new Brexit Secretary, who gave the first official Commons statement from the government on the Brexit strategy, emphasising that the government will take its time to get its negotiations with EU right.

One area of negotiations that is definitely off the cards, though, is a points-based immigration system.

To clarify the government’s stance on immigration further, May’s spokesman added to the BBC: “The precise way in which the government will control the movement of EU nationals to Britain after Brexit is yet to be determined. However, as the PM has said many times in the past, a points-based system will not work and is not an option.”


How would UK immigration work if a Brexit happened?

22nd June 2016

With the UK going to the polls on Thursday 23rd June to decide whether to remain in the EU, immigration has become a hot topic of debate. The subject has been the most prominent throughout the campaign, as well as the most divisive. What, though, would immigration actually look like in the event of a Brexit?

The Leave campaign argues that a Brexit (Britain voting to exit the European Union) would be good for the country, giving it better control over UK borders with Europe, thereby reducing the number of migrants coming in every year. Indeed, one of the main principles of the EU is the free movement of labour, which means anyone in the 27 member nations can travel to the UK to find work.

However, while there are 3 million EU citizens living in the UK, net migration of EU citizens last year was 184,000 in 2015 – below the 188,000 net migration for those outside of the EU. The OECD has also noted that immigration has accounted for one half of UK GDP growth since 2005, also creating more than 2 million jobs.

The Leave campaign has proposed a points-based system for immigration, which would take after the Australian system. The theory behind the system is that only those who earn enough points will be allowed entry, with points awarded based on skills and qualifications that are needed in the country. This would theoretically replace the automatic right of all EU citizens to come to the UK for work.

However, Australia and New Zealand both introduced their points-based system to encourage immigration and grow their economies, rather than restrict people entering their borders.

“Australia has more migration per head than we do here in the UK, so I think it’s the wrong approach,” Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I also think if we were to say to Europeans they needed work permits to come to Britain, European countries would say to us we need work permits to go and work there.”

How closely the UK would imitate Australia’s policy, then, is not clear, although one thing is certain: there would be no change for the EU citizens already resident in the UK, who would be granted indefinite leave to remain. Irish citizens, meanwhile, already have their rights to reside and work in Britain protected under law.

The Remain campaign, meanwhile, has argued that if Britain were to remain in the European Economic Area, which would allow the country access to the European single market for trading, it would still have to allow free movement for labour anyway.