As widely reported in the media, a Brexit deal is on the table; or at least the first course – a lot of the detail still has to be worked out. The Prime Minister Theresa May and her colleagues have finally succeeded in coming to a basic agreement with the EU on this painful subject.
As far as immigration goes, the agreement is more generous than previously indicated. As the Prime Minister puts it, Europeans have enriched “every part of our economy, our society, our culture and our national life,” and she says to them that “If you already have five years of continuous residence in the UK at the point we leave the EU – on 29 March 2019 – you will be eligible for settled status. And if you have been here for less than five years you will be able to stay until you have reached the five year threshold.”
These are clear words indeed, and we should be able to rely on them. It looks as though the previously announced “cut-off date” is now dead.
And those who hold British citizenship might like to know that similarly favourable arrangements will be made for Britons living in Europe.
A large majority of the comment on Brexit has dwelt on the fate of the UK after it leaves the EU. Only the most sophisticated commentators have looked in any depth on the other side of the coin: what will be the fate of the EU after the UK has left? Will it survive? Well, probably it will; after all it already existed (but under a different nomenclature) when the UK joined it in 1973.
So notwithstanding the facts that the UK has the EU’s second-largest economy, that English is the most-spoken language in the EU, that London is by far Europe’s biggest money market, and that British holidaymakers spend about 37 billion Euros in Europe per year, no doubt the EU will not die.
In the meantime, what we would like to know is: will a British citizen require a visa (or “visa-lite”) to visit Europe post-Brexit? And will they need to cross out the words “European Union” on their British passport? And will the colour of British passports change back to blue?
We will keep you informed about these important issues.