The United Kingdom has quietly agreed to protect the rights of EU27 nationals that came or will have come to the country at any point before the Brexit day in 2019 in response to the drop in the number of EU workers coming to the UK, which blew apart any argument for an earlier cut-off date.
London had been keeping the option of offering fewer rights to those EU national that arrived in the country after 29 March this year – the day when the British government formally notified Brussels of its intention to leave the bloc. There had been claims before that the reason for setting the earlier cut-off date was the fear of EU nationals flooding Britain before the country leaves the EU.
However, in the light of the opposite trend – a dramatic decrease in the number of EU nationals coming to the UK – senior EU diplomats said that Britain had conceded that there could not be any discrimination between EU member states’ citizens during the remaining time in which the UK was a member state. A diplomatic source commented that “the UK has been softening up on the first cut-off date. At first they didn’t want it to be put at the Brexit date. Now, while they are not saying it publicly that it will be Brexit date, it is clearly understood that it will be.”
The unnamed diplomatic source also added that “that is because something happened in the meantime: people stopped coming, or started coming in much lower numbers and some are leaving and industry and NHS are pointing that out.” Last week, it was revealed that the number of nurses and midwives coming to work to the UK from the rest of the bloc dropped by 89% since the Brexit referendum. This is a reflection of a wide trend affecting multiple industries. Moreover, the number of EU nationals leaving the UK went up to 122,000 over the past year.