By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) - British Prime Minister Theresa May said the EU citizens, who will arrive in Britain during transition period after it leaves the bloc, will not have the same rights as those who came before such a period starts.
May’s remarks came at a time when she is set to start a new point of debate with the EU officials, who have agreed with British negotiators on an implementation period which is to start in March 2019 when the U.K. is officially set to leave the bloc.
May, who is currently in China, said the details were “a matter for negotiation for the implementation period, but I’m clear there is a difference between those who came prior to us leaving and those who will come when they know the U.K. is leaving.”
“What we’re doing now is doing the job that the British people asked the government to do which is to deliver on Brexit,” May said.
“In doing that they did not vote for nothing to change when we come out of the EU,” she added.
The EU earlier this week said it expected the transition period to last from March 29, 2019 to December 31, 2020.
However, the European parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said the EU citizens' rights during the transition are "not negotiable."
"We will not accept that there are two sets of rights for EU citizens. For the transition to work, it must mean a continuation of the existing acquis with no exceptions,” Verhofstadt said, speaking to the Guardian.
The U.K. and the EU agreed in December that all EU citizens who have been in the U.K. for more than five years will be granted settled status with indefinite leave to remain and they will keep the same access to public services.
According to the deal, those who have been resident for a shorter period than five years but who arrived before Brexit date will be able to stay and apply for indefinite leave to remain after residing in the country for five years.
The British government is prepared to offer for those arriving after Brexit a right to be able to continue to live, work and study in the U.K. after registering with a new immigration check system, of which the details will be agreed in negotiations with the EU.
However, the EU has expressed its expectations on freedom of movement, which include gaining right to apply for permanent residency until the end of such a transition period.
- Leaked government assessment
A leaked assessment by the British government on the impact of Brexit on British national income suggested a drop of eight percent, causing controversy not only across the country and opposition MPs but also amongst the ruling Conservative Party.
The document, which was meant to be shown confidentially to cabinet ministers, was leaked in what was described as an “embarrassing” development to Prime Minister Theresa May and Brexit Secretary David Davis.
It suggested that under a no-deal scenario, the U.K. would see economic growth reduced by eight percent.
The British government later agreed to share this assessment with the opposition before a final vote on any deal to be reached with the EU.
May also ruled out any transition period that would be more than two years.
“We’re very clear. I said in the Florence speech that we expected it to be around two years because that is what seems to be the right period of time, practically,” she said.
“But I’m also very clear we are not talking about something that is going to go on and on. We’re leaving the European Union,” she added.
British and EU negotiators are set to start the second phase of negotiations in March. The second phase of Brexit talks will shape the future trade deal between the U.K. and the bloc.