Theresa May is looking to reverse her initial plan to stop EU citizens arriving in the UK during the Brexit transition phase, it has been reported.
Three weeks after the prime minister said that those coming from the EU after 29 March 2019, when the transition phase starts, would not have the same rights as those already in the UK, Downing Street is said to be looking at changing this policy, the Times reported.
Although a final decision has not been reached, a source told The Times: “This is a big U-turn in the offing, with another source confirming that planning was under way, adding: “That’s where thinking at the centre/Dexeu (Brexit department) etc now is.”
The move would be an overture to Brussels to ensure a quicker agreement on a Brexit deal, the paper said, although if the EU did not offer an equivalent deal, it could mean Britons living in Europe would have fewer rights than Europeans in the UK.
Brussels has said that a Brexit deal could be in danger if the UK stopped people arriving during transition and could not settle permanently during the transition period, which will last until the end of 2020.
However, this could anger Brexiteers, who are concerned that it could lead to an open-ended transition. Jacob Rees-Mogg, head of the European Research Group said: “There has to be some difference on March 30 from March 29 otherwise we haven’t left.”
Thursday also saw the government’s Brexit sub-committee hold talks for eight hours at Chequers on how closely the EU and UK should be aligned after exit day in March 2019.
A Downing Street spokesperson said, according to the BBC about the sub-committee’s talks: “They held discussions including about the automotive sector led by Greg Clark, agrifood led by Michael Gove, digital trade by Liam Fox and a discussion on the overall future economic partnership that was led by the prime minister.”
The prime minister is expected to lay out the government’s position on Brexit transition in the first week of March.