First appeared at Independent
Theresa May single-handedly blocked a plan to immediately guarantee the future rights of the 3m EU citizens in the UK last summer, George Osborne has revealed.
The then-Home Secretary was the only member of the Cabinet to oppose David Cameron, who “wanted to reassure EU citizens they would be allowed to stay”, after Brexit.
“All his Cabinet agreed with that unilateral offer, except his Home Secretary, Mrs May, who insisted on blocking it,” revealed the Evening Standard, now edited by Mr Osborne.
The proposal was discussed “in the days immediately after the referendum” exactly one year ago, said the newspaper.
The revelation comes after EU citizens in the UK protested that Ms May’s “generous” offer – outlined last night – will leave them with less rights after Brexit than “British jam”.
The Prime Minister’s proposals also ran into trouble from other EU leaders who warned of “open questions” and a “long, long way to go” before agreement.
Since reaching No 10, Ms May has faced down pleas to act unilaterally, insisting she would only offer guarantees to EU citizens if British ex-pats in the EU were given the same protection.
The stance fitted with her hardline approach to immigration, as she vowed tough new controls would be a “red line” in the Brexit negotiations.
Earlier this year, MPs threw out a Lords amendment requiring Britain to act immediately after the Prime Minister promised worried Tory backbenchers she would do exactly that.
Last night, she told a Brussels summit that she was willing to give the 3m EU citizens in Britain a new “settled status”, allowing them to stay if they have lived here for five years.
People gaining it would secure rights on healthcare, education and benefits broadly similar to those enjoyed by EU citizens in the UK currently.