UK Won’t ‘Turf Out’ EU Citizens in Case of No-Deal Brexit, Raab Vows
The future of European Union presently residing in the UK will be secure even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has vowed.
In case of hard Brexit, i.e. the UK’s departure from the EU without a withdrawal agreement, the UK government is to “move swiftly” to guarantee the rights of the EU nationals in Britain, Raab stated on Tuesday at a news conference after talks with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier in Brussels.
Over 3 million EU citizens are estimated to reside presently in the UK, and over 1 million Brits live in the rest of the EU.
Britain is to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019, which is expected to be followed by 1.5-year-long transition period, until December 31, 2020 – but only if London and Brussels strike a withdrawal deal.
In their June 2016 referendum, a narrow majority of the British citizens voted in favor of Brexit (51.9% to 48.1%).
In apparent ramifications of the upcoming Brexit, the first full year after the referendum, 2017, registered the highest number of EU citizens who emigrated from the UK. It also saw a record number of British citizens acquire citizenship of another EU member state.
“We hugely value the contribution of EU citizens here in the UK and I am confident that in the unlikely eventuality that we don’t have a deal, we will move swiftly to secure their position,” Raab said, as cited by the BBC.
“It is inconceivable we would do anything other than make sure that they are legally in a position where they’re secure to stay… We are talking about real people…and we have got a moral obligation,” he stated.
“There’s no question that we’re going to see EU citizens turfed out. We’ve made that clear in the past. I’ve made that clear in the past, I’m happy to give that reassurance today,” the British Brexit Secretary elaborated.
He also referred to the possibility of a hard Brexit, respectively a failure of the current EU – UK talks, as an “unlikely eventuality”.
Raab made it clear he would be returning to Brussels next week to ensure momentum in the Brexit talks was not lost, and said a “workable solution” was needed to address the concerns of communities on both sides of the Irish border.
While argued the EU must match Britain’s “ambition and pragmatism” so that remaining differences in the ongoing Brexit deal talks could be overcome, his counterpart, at an earlier news conference, the chief EU negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, warned of what he described as a “blame game” over a no deal outcome.
Barnier revealed that fundamental disagreements remained between the EU and the UK on future economic issues, and warned the EU would not abandon its single market principles.
He did stress his goal was to strike a future partnership of “unprecedented” scope with the UK but progress on economic cooperation in the talks was lagging behind that on security and defense.
“Our challenge for the coming weeks is to try and define an ambitious partnership between the UK and the EU – a partnership that has no precedent. This partnership has to respect the single market and the foundations of the European project, and if this is well understood we can conclude the negotiations successfully,” Barnier stated.
In his words, he question of the Irish border must be “de-dramatized” as both sides should determine “which controls are needed where and how this should be done”.
(Banner image: Michel Barnier on Twitter)