Yesterday marked one of the most momentous days in British history. Britain’s most senior EU diplomat, Sir Tim Barrow hand delivered Theresa May’s letter to President Donald Tusk, officially informing him of the UK’s decision to leave the bloc.
Today the Government will release a White Paper outlining a plan to repatriate the EU’s legal regime into Britain’s law books through a “great repeal bill”, that will require up to 1,000 separate statutory instruments.
All EU legal and regulatory regimes that the UK will want to keep must be transposed within 24 months. According to the Financial Times, the Hansard Society, which works to promote the democratic process globally, has stated that the government does not have the capacity to properly consider all the legislation that will be presented.
Brexit Minister, David Davis said of the Bill that importing of EU rules is, “an important step in giving businesses, workers and consumers the certainty they need. It will mean that as we seek a comprehensive new economic partnership with the EU, our allies will know that we start from a position where we have the same standards and rules.”
The fate of EU nationals
No mention has been made about the rights of EU nationals living in the UK. Theresa May has repeatedly stated that no guarantees will be given until Brussels shows its hand regarding how the 900,000 UK expats living in the 27 other EU member states will be treated. However, both sides have made clear that clarifying the rights of citizens is a negotiation priority.
Securing a trade deal
Soon after the Article 50 letter was delivered, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel immediately put the hard word on Theresa May, stating that there would be no trade deal talks until the ‘divorce settlement’ was finalised.
The German Chancellor told reporters in Berlin, "The negotiations must first clarify how we will disentangle our interlinked relationship... and only when this question is dealt with, can we, hopefully soon after, begin talking about our future relationship."
French President, Francois Hollande has also told Theresa May that talks on the UK's future relationship with the EU must wait until after negotiations on its departure from the bloc.
European Parliament chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt rejected any implication that a lucrative trade deal would be linked to enhanced security cooperation between Britain and the EU. Theresa May repeatedly linked security and defence to trade in her Article 50 letter.
Demonstrating how tough negotiations are likely to be, Manfred Weber, the head of the European People’s Party (the EU’s largest centre-right group), told Radio 4’s Todays programme this morning that when it comes to working out a deal:
“I have not the Russians’ interests in mind, I have not the Americans’ interests in mind, I have only these in mind who elected me. I am a member of the European Parliament, the leader of the biggest group, and that’s why we have from now on, the interests of 450 million citizens in mind – that is EU citizens.
“I can give you a clear example for this - I don’t care anymore about the City of London interests. I will care about the interests of Amsterdam, Dublin and Frankfurt and Paris.”
Last night, in an interview with BBC1, Theresa May admitted that free movement of citizens might continue for some time after Britain leaves the EU. She also stated that immigration numbers may not necessarily come down.
This decision is likely to infuriate Euro-sceptic members of the Conservative party who have always pushed for a clean break from the EU. However, many UK business sectors such as agriculture and hospitality have made it clear that they face severe labour shortages without EU migrants, a fact that will make it almost impossible for the Prime Minister to bring down immigration figures to the “tens of thousands”, the often-quoted ideal figure.
Over the next two years, negotiations between Britain and the EU will be sometimes fraught, sometimes positive and sometimes downright hostile. EU nationals living in the UK should continue to apply for Permanent Residence or, if their application has been rejected, seek to submit a fresh application or appeal. An experienced immigration solicitor can assist you with filling out the 85-page form and collating the necessary supporting documents.
The team at Reiss Edwards consists of some of London's leading team of immigration lawyers. If you require expert legal guidance on obtaining a Permanent Resident Card, British Citizenship, or any other matter relating to Brexit, please call us on 020 3744 2797.