Thousands of European criminals will face deportation from post-Brexit Britain, it has been revealed, as the government presents detailed plans on Monday to grant “settled status” to the 3.3 million EU citizens living in the UK.
Under UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan, EU nationals who have been settled in Britain for more than five years could claim the new status, entitling them to the same rights as full British citizens to healthcare, education, welfare, and pensions – as long as Britons in Europe receive an equivalent deal.
Those who have been in the UK for a shorter time would be able to stay until they hit the five-year threshold for settled status. Others who arrive after an unspecified cut-off date will be given a “grace period,” expected to be two years.
Separately, ministers also indicated that they would be willing to continue paying the roughly £155 million ($197 million) annual medical bills of Britons who fall ill in the EU after Brexit, and hope to negotiate a reciprocal arrangement for Europeans who need treatment in the UK.
May is expected to say on Monday, however, that “serious and persistent” criminals would be exempted from that assurance. These are likely to include people guilty of violent crimes and sex and drug offences, according to the Times.
The government’s post-Brexit immigration regime is also likely to impose tighter curbs on the abilities of convicts from EU countries to enter Britain.
There are thought to be about 13,000 foreign offenders in Britain, including 6,000 who have served sentences and are awaiting deportation. The top two nationalities are Polish and Irish, both EU members.
In the past 10 years, the number of foreign offenders in British prisons has doubled, and stands at more than 14 percent of the prison population.