UK has conceded 2019 cut off date for EU nationals coming to Britain as part of Brexit negotiations
Britain will allow EU nationals who come to the UK before the 2019 to have their rights protected, a source close to the Brexit negotiations has told the Guardian.
The move comes after a collapse in the number of EU nationals coming to the UK.
Downing Street had been hanging on to the possibility that EU nationals arriving in the UK after March 29th this year would have fewer rights.
It had been claimed that setting the cut-off date on Brexit day in 2019 would open the UK to a flood of EU27 citizens seeking to enter before Britain left the bloc.
Senior EU figures told the Guardian the collapse in EU nationals coming to the UK had dramatically weakened Britain’s argument to the point where they had conceded to the negotiating team.
One diplomatic source with knowledge of the behind the scenes discussions said: “The UK has been softening up on the first cut-off date. At first they didn’t want it to be put at the Brexit date. Now, while they are not saying it publicly that it will be Brexit date, it is clearly understood that it will be.
“That is because something happened in the meantime: people stopped coming, or started coming in much lower numbers and some are leaving and industry and NHS are pointing that out.”
The European Parliament had also threatened to veto any withdrawal agreement with a cut off date earlier than March 29th 2019.
However, a spokesperson for the Department of Exiting the European Union dismissed the news as “nonsense”.
He said: “The specific date will be discussed as part of the negotiations, but it will be no earlier than the day we triggered article 50, and no later than the UK’s exit from the EU.”
Last week it emerged that the number of nurses and midwives coming to work in Britain from the rest of Europe had plunged by 89% since the UK voted to leave the EU in June last year.
Just 1,107 EU27 nationals joined the profession in the year to September, while the number of European workers leaving nursing in the UK also rose 69% over the same period, according to figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council.