Prime Minister Theresa May has highlighted the government’s commitment to protecting the rights of EEA nationals in the UK during Brexit negotiations.
In her speech on Tuesday 17 January, May outlined the government’s 12-point plan for Brexit negotiations which looks at migration as well as other matters such as trade and international relations.
Speaking on UK immigration, not only did the Prime Minister express a wish to protect the rights of EEA (European Economic Area) nationals living in the UK and the rights of UK nationals living in EEA member states, but also that this should be one of the earliest matters to be settled during negotiations.
“We want to guarantee the rights of European Union citizens who are already in this country and make such a great contribution to our society, and in tandem protect the rights of UK citizens in EU countries so they are similarly protected. We would like to resolve this issue at the earliest possible stage.”
May also emphasised that she wishes Britain to remain internationally attractive to the world’s best talent in order to further economic growth and plug potential skill gaps.
“Openness to international talent must remain one of this country’s most distinctive assets – but that process must be managed properly so that our immigration system serves the national interest”.
Despite her promise to protect the rights of migrants in the UK, May also emphasised the need to control EEA immigration to the UK:
“We will ensure we can control immigration to Britain from Europe”.
Furthermore, her speech failed to confirm exactly how the government intends to produce an immigration policy which both protects current migrants in the UK but also controls the movement of future migrants. From this lack of information we can deduce that such a system is yet to be shaped by the Home Office, and for the time being we can only take an educated guess as to what the future landscape of UK immigration policy will look like.