There are those at home and abroad with political agendas who don’t want the UK to be successful outside of the EU. An example of this was last week when we saw an absurd claim that was given wide publicity, which said that our planes won’t fly after Brexit. Such nonsense distracts from the real issues and while I firmly believe that Brexit will benefit our country in the long-term, I also recognise that there are short-term challenges and issued to be resolved.
In Crawley we have over 6,000 registered adult EU nationals (not including Irish citizens) who make a major contribution to our town. Some have been in Crawley well over 20 years and have raised their families here, while others intend to work here temporarily. Providing a fair deal for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in EU countries is a key part of the Brexit negotiations and one that I am very confident will have a good outcome.
While most people rightly recognise that unlimited free movement of people needs to end, most of us also recognise that EU citizens have become an integral part of the economic, cultural and social fabric of our country. The Conservative Government has made it clear that the rights of EU citizens here should be addressed early. This is why a very fair offer has been made to the EU to help provide that certainty for them.
The 3 million EU citizens in the UK will soon have guaranteed certainty about their future in the UK and a reciprocal agreement will provide the same certainty for the more than 1 million UK citizens who live in EU countries. The plan is that applicants who’ve already have five year’s continuous residence in the UK will be immediately eligible for settled status, and those who do not yet meet the five-year threshold by exit day and who arrived before a date yet to be specified after the Article 50 triggering, can stay until they reach that milestone so they too can also secure settled status at a later date.