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After a tricky campaign, can the PM now say that ‘Brexit means Brexit’?

Theresa May has been elected as the Prime Minster, despite running what is widely regarded as a poor and madly managed campaign. As we look ahead we may see internal wrangling within the Conservative Party about her style and her inability to secure the majority that she sought. Many will ask, “What was the point of that election?”.

What we know of the Prime Minister is that she is pragmatic and has little time for gossip and Part politics. Theresa May will immediately put those matters to one side and focus on the real issues: Brexit and homeland security. Since the recent terrorist atrocities in the UK, they are two issues that have become more entwined. When once the immigration debate focused on issues such as national resources and cultural integration, it is now a matter of grave national security.

Theresa May has said ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to terror and has promised an overhaul of human rights laws. If she is mirroring what millions of Britons are saying then this may mean a severe clampdown on the right of British citizens (those on the 3000 Jihadi watch-list) to return to the UK. If this comes at the same time as negotiations on EU citizens’ right to remain after Brexit, it would signal a significant shift in Britain’s immigration laws. Tighter, harder controls and possibly a more rigorous approach to immigration from the Middle East and Africa.

The Prime Minister has signalled again and again that the issue of EU citizens status in Britain (and the rights of British citizens in Europe) are her priority. Being returned to Number 10 with an increased majority may likely strengthen her hand at negotiations with her EU counterparts and enable her to secure a fair, reciprocal deal that allows EU citizens who have worked and built lives in the UK to remain indefinitely. And, if they wish to gain British citizenship (at the expense of their EU citizenship perhaps) they may well be granted permission to apply for settlement.

It is unlikely, given the Prime Ministers firm position that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ that she would enable those who have lived in the UK for only a short period of time to remain – unless they meet the normal immigration requirements that apply to individuals in non-EU countries. Surely it would be madness to allow EU nationals who arrived after the Brexit vote to stay indefinitely – even if they have a job? This may be the hard-line approach that the Prime Minister takes.

Why you need an Immigration Lawyer from Optimus Law now more than ever:

If Brexit really means Brexit, then the UK is likely to move to a position where it treats all foreign nationals equally, rather than give priority or special status to people who are EU citizens. This will be a hard pill for EU nationals to swallow – but it will make life easier for growing businesses who want to be able to select who they hire from overseas without being forced to prove that they have scoured the EU first.

For businesses in the UK who currently employ EU citizens, these developments will create a period of short-term instability but, with the likelihood of an early agreement on EU-UK immigration rules, businesses will be able to look ahead to the next two years and beyond with a greater understanding of what they need to do to retain the talent they have invested in – and secure the talent they need from either within or outside of the EU.

For families that have invested years of hard work and paid their fair share of taxes to HMRC, we are likely to see a softer approach from the Prime Minister. Since being elected she has spoken often about hard work and fairness. It would be extremely unlikely that the families of EU citizens who gain the right to remain would have to leave – although it is doubtful whether families will be allowed to continue to send welfare benefits back to their home countries.

The approach that Theresa May is likely to take will reflect her own values of fairness, balance and pragmatism, and whilst her authority within her own Party may be bruised, the reality is that she now has a greater majority than she did three months ago and the ability to deliver a Brexit deal that is robust, fair to business and provides a level playing field for talent from across the world who wish to secure employment in the UK.

Optimus Law have the experience and expertise required to successfully advise clients on all matters pertaining to Immigration including employers’ requirements for EEA Nationals, the effects on businesses due Brexit and national status enquiries.


 To find out how we can help you, please call our Birmingham office on 0121 516 0288 to make an appointment with one of our Immigration team.

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