British Prime Minister Theresa May has provided details of her plan to protect the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, saying all of them will have to apply for a special ID card if they want to reside in the country after Brexit. More than three million Europeans are currently living in Britain and around one million Britons living elsewhere in the EU. The issue of citizens’ rights is one of the three priorities in the Brexit talks which began last week, along with Britain’s divorce bill and the question of Northern Ireland.
A 15-page document issued by the government proposes an online system to process applications that will provide EU citizens the same “indefinite leave to remain” status as many migrants from elsewhere who have also lived in the UK for five years. The EU “settled status” residence proposals could require an identity card approved by a Home Office central database or register.
According to the proposals, Britain would offer EU citizens a chance to build up the same rights to work, healthcare and benefits as UK citizens. “I want to completely reassure people that under these plans, no EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will be asked to leave at the point the UK leaves the EU. We want you to stay,” Prime Minister May told a session of parliament on Monday.
May unveiled the proposals just hours after she struck a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which will see them support her minority government. May had called for a snap election in April in hopes of getting an increased parliamentary majority that could have strengthened her position before going into two years of intense negotiations with the European Union about Britain’s departure from the bloc.
However, British voters dealt her a devastating blow, wiping out her parliamentary majority and throwing the country into political turmoil. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told the parliament on Monday that May’s marginalized position after losing the majority meant that she could no longer clinch a good deal for the country from the EU.
“She wanted a landslide and she lost her majority. Now her mandate is in tatters, but the prime minister still insists she’s the best person to get a good deal for Britain,” he said to loud cheers from his party. “The truth is this country needs a new approach to Brexit,” he added.