Theresa May: Brexit deal on EU citizens rights in 'touching distance'
Theresa May will today tell EU citizens living in the UK they can stay after Brexit as she reveals a deal on the controversial issue is within “touching distance”.
In her clearest announcement to migrants yet, the Prime Minister will say: “EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay.”
She will promise a “streamlined” service for EU nationals to register for the ‘settled status’ the Government announced back in June and secure their rights.
Mrs May will make the comments ahead of her trip to the European Council today, at which she is hoping for a major breakthrough in Brexit negotiations.
She has come under increasing pressure to guarantee the status of the three million EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit – but has so far said only that she “wants” them to stay.
The Government argues it cannot unilaterally guarantee their rights without the EU doing the same for British nationals living on the continent.
In an open letter on Facebook she will say: “When we started this process, some accused us of treating EU nationals as bargaining chips. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
“EU citizens who have made their lives in the UK have made a huge contribution to our country. And we want them and their families to stay.
“I couldn’t be clearer: EU citizens living lawfully in the UK today will be able to stay.”
Mrs May will add: “We are in touching distance of agreement.
“We are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future.
“This process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way.”
In June the Prime Minister said "settled status" would be offered to those who had been living in Britain for at least five years.
The Daily Telegraph reports that EU migrants who arrive in Britain over the next 18 months will also be allowed to stay permanently after Brexit.
Meanwhile EU nationals who have been in the UK for less than five years before the cut-off will have the chance to stay until they are eligible for settled status.
Mrs May is hoping that EU leaders will agree at today's summit that there has been 'sufficient progress' on the Brexit talks to move onto discussions about a future trade deal.