May Offers Plan for EU Citizens to Stay in UK After ‘Brexit’ – New York Times
Mrs. May is expected to present her plans in far greater detail on Monday in London, and she left important questions unanswered in her remarks Thursday evening. Even so, some of the substance of her plans appeared to be sharply at odds with her European counterparts’ expectations.
A key issue is setting a cutoff date for European Union citizens living in Britain to qualify for what is called settled status, allowing them to remain indefinitely. The date must fall sometime between March 29, 2017, the day Mrs. May formally notified the union of its intention to withdraw, and the day the withdrawal actually takes effect — two years after the notice was given, barring an extension.
European Union officials have said they want Britain to guarantee their citizens’ rights to live in Britain right up to the date of withdrawal, or Brexit as it is known. And they want the Court of Justice of the European Union to oversee residency and rights to education, health care and pensions.
But Mrs. May said on Thursday that the cutoff date had not yet been determined, and that the system would be overseen exclusively by British courts, with no role for the European court.
Five years’ residency is normally required to qualify to stay in Britain indefinitely, but Mrs. May offered on Thursday to allow a “grace period” of up to two years after the cutoff for people who had moved to Britain more recently.
Earlier in the day, several European leaders urged Britain to reverse course and remain a member of the European Union.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, the body that organizes summit meetings, invoked the John Lennon song “Imagine” in discussing his hopes for a change of heart.
“Some of my British friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be reversed, and whether I could imagine an outcome where the U.K. stays part of the E.U.,” Mr. Tusk told reporters. “I told them that, in fact, the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve. So, who knows? You may say I’m a dreamer, but I am not the only one.”
Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, had a far tougher message, saying that in order to avoid extensive economic damage, Britain needed to accept the jurisdiction of the European court and to go on allowing citizens of other European Union countries to live and work freely in Britain.
“I hate Brexit from every angle,” said Mr. Rutte. But he added that the withdrawal was “a sovereign decision by the British people, and I can’t argue with democracy.”