The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to revoke the right of European nationals to stay permanently in the UK after initiating the country’s withdrawal from the European Union, according to an official.
Once May triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in mid- March to begin the Brexit process, EU citizens would not have the right to live in the country, according to British media.
The newly arrived migrants are expected to undergo a regime of post-Brexit restrictions instead, which involves a new visa process as well as limited access to benefits.
A government source told The Daily Telegraph that the decision was necessary because otherwise “half of Romania and Bulgaria” might come to Britain before Brexit.
“We have had some suggestion that the European Commission might attempt to force us to protect everyone who arrives up to the moment of departure,” he said.
“We could end up with half of Romania and Bulgaria coming here if we wait that long,” the source added.
The new restriction would not include the 3.6 million EU citizens who are already living in the UK. Those who arrive before the designated date would also be excluded, if the same holds true for UK citizens living in the EU.
The European Parliament has launched an investigation into what it calls a “bureaucratic wall” that EU nationals run into upon entering the UK.
Some 1.2 million British citizens are currently living in other EU countries and might be offered EU citizenship individually, according to reports.
“Theresa understands that if you want to take control you have to command the high ground,“ said Conservative MP and Eurosceptic politician Iain Duncan Smith.
“She will be giving clarity by setting a clear deadline while the European Union looks increasingly muddled and mean-spirited,” he added.
Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has made it clear that after Brexit "we will be ending free movement [of EU nationals] as we know it."
Surge in rejections
Meanwhile, it was reported on Monday that around 28 percent of EU citizens have had their applications for staying in the UK rejected, according to a research based on the government’s migration data.
This means that about 800,000 EU citizens face an uncertain future in the post-Brexit UK.
Tightening the borders was one of the main demands of Britons as they voted to end the country’s membership in the EU in a referendum last year.