The Prime Minister has opened talks with the EU by magnanimously agreeing not to do something that would be downright evil.
And so, EU citizens living in the UK are to be allowed to stay in the UK. Mrs May’s offer divides EU immigrants to the UK into three categories:
- Those who have been living in the UK for five years or more before a yet to be agreed cut-off date will be described as having ‘settled status’. These people will be afforded the same rights as UK citizens regarding welfare, health care, education and pensions.
- EU immigrants who have lived in the UK for less than five years before the cut-off date will be able to stay until they have lived in the UK for five years, at which point they can apply for ‘settled status.’
- The third group applies to people who enter the UK after this cut-off date; they will be entitled to a grace period of two years, during which time they can apply for status to remain.
There is a question mark over whether families of people with settled status will be allowed to enter the UK, although Mrs May indicated that she does not want to break-up families.
Mrs May’s proposals were conditional upon some kind of reciprocal deal from the EU concerning UK citizens living abroad but within the EU.
It is worth noting that the EU had already said that UK citizens living in the rest of the EU would not be required to leave.
Many of Mrs May’s supporters had nothing but praise, David Buik, for example, a city grandee and TV pundit, called the move ‘spot on’ this morning on the BBC.
But consider the alternative – consider if, instead, she had said that all EU immigrants must leave, forthwith. Aside from such a move amounting to economic suicide, it would have been castigated as morally repugnant.
Mrs May has simply opened negotiations by agreeing to something that any standard of decency would have called a no -brainer.
So far then, Mrs May has agreed to something that many people felt should never have been on the negotiating table anyway.
And that is what she calls a ‘fair and serious offer’, one dreads to think what an unfair offer looks like.