With impending difficult decisions to be made on Britains exit from the European union, a vast number of EU citizens living in the UK have applied to become residents. This seems to be unsurprising considering the fact that their right to live in the UK is increasingly under threat as the British government and the European commission continue to play verbal football with the lives of the innocent foreign nationals currently residing in the UK, and also those British nationals who currently live on the continent.
The news follows Labours push for the British government to confirm indefinite rights for current EU nationals residing in the UK to maintain their right to live and work there. A request that has so far been refused by Theresa May and her cabinet.
It’s believed that the potential removal of these rights could affect up to three million people currently residing in the UK, many on the left have heavily admonished the tories for failing to guarantee this right. Currently there’s believed to be around 100,000 applications waiting to be dealt with, in a backlog that has almost trebled since 2015.
But in all of this the Prime Minister Theresa May is holding her ground, and not guaranteeing these rights until British nationals living abroad have also been given the same rights. In recent days the idea of Brits paying to maintain their rights of free movement have been under discussion but details remain unknown.
In recent weeks the war of words between the government here in Westminster and the commission in Brussels has grown increasingly heated. The commission have warned on a number of occasions that there will be no guarantees on the future relationship until Britain triggers article 50 of the Lisbon treaty and ends their more than 40 year membership of the trading bloc. The UK has not revealed when this will happen, though it’s believed that article 50 will be triggered in the first quarter of 2017. Leading to a two year period for all deals to be made. Tense negotiations will then start, as both sides will try and get the best deal for themselves.
The deal we end up with will mainly depend on the British government’s willingness to bend on free trade and movement, which the commission believes are inextricably linked, and will not give one without the other. Whereas many on the right of British politics are hoping for a “hard Brexit” which would involve the UK severing all ties with the European union. But for many this would be a step too far. Opponents of this option include Liberal democrat leader Tim Farron, who is trying to garner support for a second referendum on the proposed deal on the table for the UK. One thing is for certain, the next two years could be extremely difficult in British politics.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.