Over half a million EU nationals resident in Britan may be forced to leave the UK in the wake of Brexit according to the latest analysis.
The Social Market Foundation (SMF) has found 590,000 EU nationals currently living in the UK would not meet the residency requirements to be automatically guaranteed the right to remain if Article 50 is triggered next year and Britain leaves the EU by 2019. However, of the 3.6 million EU citizens currently living in the UK, more than 80 per cent would have been here for five years and would thereby retain the right to stay.
Given the “likely protracted nature” of Brexit, the report says “it is probable” that all EU citizens arriving in the UK before 2014 and continuing to reside here will have permanent residency rights by the time Brexit actually occurs. The think tank said it would be “very difficult, if not impossible” for the Government to change its permanent residency criteria before Brexit and deny these people the right to stay.
Emran Mian, director of the SMF, said: “Our analysis suggests that, while the majority have or will acquire permanent residence, the right to remain in the UK of almost 600,000 people may be at risk if the UK leaves the EU in 2019.”
The latest SMF figures show that around 3.55 million EU citizens are resident in the UK. As many as 1,660,000 come from the so-called EU14, those nations that were part of the EU before 2004, followed by 1.5 million from the eight Eastern European nations that joined 12 years ago.
Mr Mian added: “These are the first steps in providing greater clarity on the negotiations to come with these countries and the EU as a whole.”
The Government should now provide its own analysis and articulate a plan for starting discussions. Until it does EU residents living in the UK, the businesses which employ them and the communities in which they live, are subject to uncertainty which will become more worrying as time goes on.
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