European Union citizens living in the UK will face a “legal no-man’s land” after Brexit, according to a document obtained by the Observer newspaper.
European lawmakers and officials foresee problems because Britain lacks information on which EU nationals are in the country before its divorce, the newspaper reported. That will make it difficult to choose who will remain after Brexit, and could “overburden” the system, according to the leaked report, which was drawn up by the European Parliament’s employment committee.
Prime Minister Theresa May has so far refused to guarantee the rights of EU citizens to stay in Britain until formal exit talks begin. She plans to trigger those negotiations by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty next month, with a view to securing an exit deal within two years. May has said she favors controlling immigration at the expense of unfettered access to the EU’s single market and customs union — a stance known as hard Brexit.
The number of immigrants in the UK will remain roughly the same after the nation quits the EU, former European trade commissioner Peter Mandelson told BBC Television’s “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday.
“Already half of the migrants don’t come from the European Union, they come from the rest of the world,” said Mandelson, who’s also a former U.K. government minister. Britain needs EU immigrants “to fill jobs in our economy,” he said.
The number of EU workers in Britain has more than doubled in the past decade, according to the Office for National Statistics. An Observer survey by Opinium also published on Sunday showed most Britons believe that Europeans living in the UK should be given the automatic right to stay after Brexit, with just 5 percent saying they should be told to leave.