EU migrants who try to “beat the deadline” by moving to Britain just before Brexit could be sent home, a Tory Cabinet minister warned today. Brexit Secretary David Davis refused to rule out the move as he said people may “come here in a big rush to try and grab a set of advantages” designed for people who arrived in the UK years ago.
His comments prompted new fears over the future of free movement when Article 50 is triggered, which will set a two-year Brexit clock ticking while the government still has to follow EU rules.
Mr Davis warned “if you set a date, that’s when you start the rush”.
But The MP for Haltemprice and Howden says he wants a good settlement for EU migrants already in the UK. “They didn’t pick this circumstance, we did. They came here thinking they could be here for life, some of been here for many many decades. So we want to get a generous settlement for them. We want to do that at the same time as getting a similarly generous settlement for British citizens leaving within the EU. What I’ve said is lets deal with that issue, when we come to it, one way of dealing with it could be people arriving before a certain date get this protection, there are other ways too.”
Theresa May was earlier accused of making people “bargaining chips” for refusing to guarantee the 2.15million EU citizens who work in Britain can remain.
Ministers said there must be parallel offers first for the 1.2million British expats who live in the 27 other EU countries. Mr Davis, who was picked to head up a new Brexit department in last week’s reshuffle, was attacked over his remarks by John McDonnell. The Shadow Chancellor said: “I’m really shocked that these questions weren’t addressed in advance, either by him campaigning for Brexit or by the government considering both options.
“People are very worried.”