The Home Secretary and front runner in the Conservative Party’s leadership contest, Theresa May today, today (3 July 2016) cast doubt over the immigration status of the millions of EU nationals currently living in the UK following the UK’s departure from the European Union.
In an interview with ITV’s Peston on Sunday, the Home Secretary stated:
“I’m very clear that the Brexit vote gave us a very clear message from people, that we couldn’t allow freedom of movement to continue as it had done hitherto. We need to bring control in to movement of people coming into the UK from the EU, so we’ve got to move ahead with an immigration… looking across immigration, dealing with both those types of immigration. But still I believe, we should have that goal of bringing immigration down to sustainable levels.“
“We are still a member of the EU – there is no change in their position currently. But of course as part of the negotiation we will need to look at this question of people who are here in the UK from the EU and I want to to ensure that we are able to not just guarantee the positions of those people but guarantee the positions of British citizens in other member states.”
Prior to the EU referendum key members of the Leave campaign had attempted to calm concerns of EU national residents by stating that those who were lawfully resident in the UK would not be required to leave. A statement by Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, and Gisela Stuart made prior to the referendum vote stated:
“First, there will be no change for Irish citizens. The right of Irish citizens to enter, reside and work in the UK is already enshrined in our law. This will be entirely unaffected by a vote to leave on 23 June.
As the Northern Ireland Secretary has made clear, the common travel area that has existed since the creation of an independent Irish state will not be affected. There will be no change to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Second, there will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.“