Theresa May has made a far better offer to EU nationals, saying they will be granted permanent residence after staying five years. But the EU has not. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, has said that her offer is ‘below our expectations and risks worsening the situation for our citizens’. He wants the European Court of Justice to have authority over the UK government in policing its pledge to EU citizens. Theresa May has ruled out any ECJ authority saying, quite rightly, that the Brexit vote was a move to end all that.
So where now? Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta which holds the rotating EU presidency, warned of the danger of ‘pitfalls’, in which people were ‘treated differently’ depending on when they arrived in the UK. I’m not quite sure what he expects: when I sat on the British Future commission into this subject we suggested the day that Article 50 was invoked as a suitable stating point. Theresa May is willing to wait until Brexit day. So of course people will be treated differently depending on the regime under which they arrived. ‘Everyone in Europe wants a situation where we have a blanket fair treatment of all our citizens,’ says Muscat. Which is what Mrs May has (belatedly) proposed.
It seems she’s not the only one who is prepared to use expatriates as bargaining chips.
Fraser Nelson and Sunder Katwala from British Future discuss Theresa May’s guarantee of permanent residency for current EU nationals in the UK