Theresa May told to set cut-off date for EU migrants

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Aug 02, 2016 18:50 IST
British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during a news conference with her Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi (not seen) during a meeting in Rome on July 27. (Reuters)

An influential committee of the British Parliament has called for an immediate announcement about the future of nearly 3 million EU citizens in the country following the Brexit vote, and suggested three possible cut-off dates. 

The idea is to reassure migrants who arrive in Britain before the cut-off date of their indefinite future in the country. Setting the cut-off date will avoid a surge in immigration, the Home Affairs Committee of Parliament said in its latest report. 

Keith Vaz, chair of the committee, said: "The biggest issue relating to Brexit is migration. There is a clear lack of certainty in the government’s approach to the position of EU migrants resident in the UK and British citizens living in the EU. Neither should be used as pawns in a complicated chess game which has not even begun.”

Britons voted in a June 23 referendum to exit the European Union, triggering a political storm that resulted in the resignation of former premier David Cameron. Britain is yet to begin formal negotiations on the exit. 

Prime Minister Theresa May has reassured EU migrants in Britain but has not confirmed their indefinite stay, linking it to the fate of nearly 1.5 million Britons living in EU countries. The arrangements are expected to be finalised in negotiations due to start in early 2017.

EU citizens in Britain include more than 20,000 Portuguese citizens of Goa origin.

“We have offered three suggested cut-off dates, and unless the government makes a decision, the prospect of a 'surge' in immigration will increase. Multiple voices and opinions from government ministers causes uncertainty, and must stop,” Vaz said.

The report said the “most obvious” cut-off dates include the date of the EU referendum, June 23, or the date Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty is triggered for beginning the process of Britain’s exit, or the date when Britain actually leaves the EU after a process expected to last two years.

Calling for certainty on the future of EU migrants in Britain and British citizens in EU countries, the committee said they must not be used as "bargaining chips" in Brexit negotiations. It asked the government to move quickly to establish certainty over their status.

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