Rising risk of no-deal Brexit threatens status of Romanians living in the UK

Sorin Melenciuc 12/11/2018 | 16:50

A deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union risks being rejected by the British parliament due to divided political views, according to Bloomberg. A no-deal Brexit could bring chaos and threatens the status of Romanians living in the UK.

The UK and the EU have been edging toward an agreement after 16 months of talks, with the aim of getting a deal wrapped up at a summit in November.

The main battle remains over the Irish backstop, which would prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland by allowing all of the UK to remain in a customs union after the post-Brexit transition period ends in December 2020.

Britain and the EU are working on a review clause, involving both sides, that would allow Britain to leave a customs arrangement.

But one Brexit backer, House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, warned Sunday that an arrangement that left Britain “trapped” against its will would be impossible to sell to Parliament.

As domestic opposition builds in Britain, momentum seems to be fading for getting a deal done quickly.

The Cabinet had been expected to meet on Monday to sign off on Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans, but late on Sunday there was no sign of further progress, according to three people familiar with the matter cited by Bloomberg.

Investors and businesses hope to see a deal sealed in November and this week is probably the last chance to corral May’s divided Cabinet.

“Getting any divorce deal through a bitterly divided Parliament was always going to be May’s biggest challenge. But as the various factions who oppose May’s approach step up their warnings, it’s looking even trickier than her whips may have calculated,” Bloomberg points out.

On the one hand, pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers threaten to reject the deal even if May persuades the Cabinet to approve it in the coming days.

“If the government makes the historic mistake of prioritizing placating the EU over establishing an independent and whole U.K., then regrettably we must vote against the deal,” Steve Baker, a former Conservative minister, and Sammy Wilson, Brexit spokesman for the Democratic Unionist Party, wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

Brexiteers want a clean break with the EU so Britain can pursue its own trade deals around the world and regain control over regulations and legislation.

On the other hand, there is also growing criticism of Theresa May among pro-EU Conservatives, with the shock resignation of Jo Johnson as transport minister on Friday triggering speculation that others could follow.

Johnson, the pro-EU brother of Brexit-backing former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, called for a second referendum as he said May’s handling of the talks had left Britain with a choice between handing over even more sovereignty than EU membership required, or accepting the “chaos of no deal”.

May hopes that a number of Labour lawmakers will end up voting for her deal, particularly those who represent pro-Brexit constituencies.

But Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer again pushed back against the idea on Sunday, saying there’s no obligation for members of Parliament to surrender to a bad deal out of fear of crashing out of the EU without one.

On Monday Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, an influential figure in the Labour Party, also urged his party in the House of Commons to reject May’s deal.

The leader of European Research Group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs, Jacob Rees-Mogg, made a proposal to break the impasse with the EU.

Under “No Deal Plus,” Britain would offer to pay GBP 20 billion – half the divorce bill currently envisaged — to make its departure “as amicable as possible” and leave following a 21-month transition period.

But the EU has said there is no transition without a divorce deal – and no divorce deal without an agreement on the Irish border.

Troubles for Romanians in the UK?

Under the current UK-EU agreement draft, the Romanians living in the UK by the time of Britain’s departure from the EU already for five years will be able to apply immediately for settled status.

The UK offers a low bureaucracy procedure and it will accord them pretty much the rights and the benefits they enjoy already.

“Those Romanians who haven’t yet lived in the UK for five years by the time of our departure will be able to stay in UK and, by the time they reach that 5-year milestone, they will be able to apply at that point for settled status,” former British ambassador to Romania Paul Brummell said in an interview with Business Review.

But a no-deal Brexit could threaten the status of EU citizens living in the UK, according to many experts.

According to a recent article published in The Guardian, campaigners and business have already expressed alarm that no detail has been issued on the rights of 3 million EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit.

Theresa May has said she will guarantee the rights of all EU citizens in the UK, regardless of a deal brokered with Brussels but firms have said they need concrete details about their employment status.

The British Chamber of Commerce said it was “surprised and concerned that there was no technical notice on the future status of EU nationals”.

“Without clear, official guidance, warm words will not be enough to ease the concerns of many businesses and their employees,” said the BCC’s co-executive director, Hannah Essex.

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