UK PM’s ‘reciprocal rights’ deal for expats now seems unlikely pre-Article 50: report

An effort on the part of UK prime minister Theresa May to secure a “reciprocal rights” arrangement that would guarantee the status of EU nationals living in the UK, and vice versa, now seems unlikely before Article 50 is triggered, the Financial Times is reporting today.

This is in contrast to reports last week,  reported here and elsewhere, that such a deal was close to being agreed, with a majority of European Union countries having reportedly signaled that they were ready to do a deal with the UK.

According to today’s Financial Times report, German chancellor Angela Merkel has “insisted there could be no side deals before Britain starts formal EU exit negotiations next year, a view backed by European Council president Donald Tusk”.

The publication quotes the German chancellor as adding that “it is in our interests to act together in this matter,”and as having “told Mrs May earlier this month that no part of the Brexit deal would be discussed until formal negotiations began”.

The comments were said to reflect “a hardening tone across Europe towards Britain and a determination to present a united front”.

In a separate development, London Mayor Sadiq Khan was said by his office to be planning today to “declare that he will have no choice but to look at a ‘London-specific solution’ if the [UK] government refuses to act over employers’ fears that business will lose access to skilled EU workers after Brexit negotiations”, and thus plans to “push forward” with what are understood to be plans for “London-only visas” for the capital’s foreign workers.

The Mayor was expected to announce this plan in a keynote speech at the Institute of Directors, a City Hall statement said. It said he plans to warn that UK government ministers aren’t listening to the concerns of the business community about what may become of their skilled expat staff after Brexit.

Some 616,000 people currently live in London who were born elsewhere in Europe, accounting for 12.5% of the entire workforce, or around one in eight workers, according to the mayor’s office.

Both the London Chamber of Commerce and the City of London Corporation have backed the idea that a London work permit could help to combat the effect of Brexit in London.

In his address today, Khan will say that he is to convene a group of business and industry leaders at City Hall in the new year to “take this vital work forward”, the City Hall statement said.

To read the FT’s article on the publication’s website, which has a paywall, click here. 

As reported, there are an estimated 3.3 million EU nationals living in the UK, and roughly 1.2 million Britons living in the 27 other EU member states.

According to the latest figures from the United Nations in 2015, Poland has the most EU nationals living in the UK (883,000), followed by Germany (297,000), and Romania with 229,000.

The EU countries with the most UK expats living in them are Spain (309,000), Ireland (255,000) and France (185,000).

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