Priti Patel has caused a wave of fear when she announced that EU Free Movement regulations will immediately come to an end on 31 October 2019, if there is no-deal. The sudden change in approach has taken everyone by surprise, to say the least.
The implications of ending Free Movement without putting into place legal safeguards is that those who do not apply under the EU Settlement Scheme will be left in a legal limbo with their right to reside in the UK immediately stripped away from them. We currently have statistics that show that over one million applicants have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme, but we do not have statistics that tell us how many EU nationals are left to apply. This means that potentially there may be millions who have not applied.
This is in total contrast to what the Prime Minister’s predecessor, Theresa May, had proposed in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which included an interim period whereby EU citizens would be able to freely come to the UK for up to 3 months. Thereafter, they would either need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain (ETLR) or switch to another visa category.
The Home Secretary has been holding a tough stance, but does she realise the adverse effect this will have on British Citizens who are exercising their rights in EU countries. There is a chance that the EU may reciprocate the same treatment back to British Citizens who are working and residing in the EU. Further to this, are we really prepared to deal with border restrictions and the checking of millions of EU nationals who enter the UK after 31 October 2019, with no system in place to replace our current. The practical issues seem to be overlooked as well as the risk of discrimination. If we leave the EU without a deal, then it is unlikely that we would immediately be able to distinguish between those EU nationals who were resident in the UK prior to exit day and those that come after. The ramifications are too drastic if a replacement system is not implemented.