I have been meaning to write about this for a few days. Today, the day when Theresa May will become our Prime Minister, seems as good a day for these thoughts as any.
A few days ago, when there were as many as five candidates for the highest office (it seems so long ago now), she was the only one of the five not to commit to granting the 3m odd non-British EU citizens living in the UK the right to continue to do so. Why, i wondered ?
The immediate reasons were clear. It would be part of the Brexit negotiations, and will depend on the rights of British citizens residing in the rest of the EU. As Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said, providing the guarantee risked "selling our people out too cheap".
I disagree with that.
It is inconceivable that either UK or the EU would de-legitimise the residence status of millions of people (it is not even clear that they can legally do that). The implied threat is a poor negotiating ploy, as a threat needs to be credible in order to be useful.
In the unlikely scenario that the EU decides not to respect the rights of UK citizens living there, the UK can easily change course without the PM paying a domestic political price for it. The people would surely understand.
In short, i thought it was a cheap guarantee to give.
Maybe Mrs May was thinking that a significant portion of the Conservative membership actually wants the deportation of other EU citizens from the UK (I disagree with that assessment) and that she needed to keep that possibility open while an election by the membership was a possibility.
But now that she will be the Prime Minister, i think it would behove her to swiftly announce that EU citizens currently living in the UK would continue to be able to do so.
Wishing her all the best !!