Theresa May’s written to the 3 million. Again. She’s even finally mentioned the EEA/Swiss nationals living in the UK. A positive step? Perhaps. But I can’t help feeling you should read between the lines…

As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I am proud that more than three million EU citizens have chosen to make your homes and livelihoods here in our country.

Although not enough to unilaterally guarantee your rights over the past year and a half, nor stop my ministers referring to you – and using you – as bargaining chips at various points.

I greatly value the depth of the contributions you make – enriching every part of our economy, our society, our culture and our national life.

But especially the taxes you pay.

I know our country would be poorer if you left and I want you to stay.

And I mean that literally. As in, money.

So from the very beginning of the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union I have consistently said that protecting your rights – together with the rights of UK nationals living in EU countries – has been my first priority.

Which is why it’s only taken a year and a half to cobble together this deal to protect some of your existing rights.

You made your decision to live here without any expectation that the UK would leave the EU. So I have said that I want you to be able carry on living your lives as before.

Even though the deal that we’ve reached doesn’t actually enable you to carry on living your lives as before.

But I know that on an issue of such significance for you and your families, there has been an underlying anxiety which could only be addressed when the fine details of some very complex and technical issues had been worked through and the foundations for a formal agreement secured.

Or we could have just unilaterally guaranteed your rights, but we had no bargaining chips of our own, so three million of you had to do.

‘When we leave the European Union, you will have your rights written into UK law.’

Which we can change on a whim. Good luck!

So I am delighted that in concluding the first phase of the negotiations that is exactly what we have achieved.

Read the fine print is all I’m saying.

The details are set out in the Joint Report on progress published on Friday by the UK government and the European Commission.

When we leave the European Union, you will have your rights written into UK law. This will be done through the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill which we will bring forward after we have completed negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement itself.

So: no rights for you unless all this goes through. Good job everything doesn’t hinge on a few dozen of my most rabid backbenchers, and the whims of the DUP!

Your rights will then be enforced by UK courts. Where appropriate, our courts will pay due regard to relevant ECJ case law, and we have also agreed that for a period of eight years – where existing case law is not clear – our courts will be able to choose to ask the ECJ for an interpretation prior to reaching their own decision.

We know you wanted lifelong rights here, but we realised we could throw UK citizens in the EU under the bus to get the EU to compromise. Which is a win-win for me.

So as we take back control of our laws,

Oops. My UKIP klaxon just went off. Sorry about that.

you can be confident not only that your rights will be protected in our courts, but that there will be a consistent interpretation of these rights in the UK and in the European Union.

For eight years. Unless we change our minds. Or none of this happens anyway. In which case, your guess is as good as mine.

We have agreed with the European Commission that we will introduce a new settled status scheme under UK law for EU citizens and their family members, covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you already have five years of continuous residence in the UK at the point we leave the EU – on 29 March 2019 – you will be eligible for settled status.

Probably. If you’re not paying taxes, some of my ministers have said we might actually tell you to naff off, but then people who don’t pay taxes aren’t really human anyway, are they?

And if you have been here for less than five years you will be able to stay until you have reached the five year threshold.

Unless you’re not paying taxes, in which case we’re considering reserving the right for Boris Johnson to catapult you across the English Channel using a giant trebuchet.

As a result of the agreement we have reached in the negotiations, with settled status, your close family members will be free to join you here in the UK after we have left the EU.

For a bit.

This includes existing spouses, unmarried partners, children, dependent parents and grandparents, as well as children born or adopted outside of the UK after 29th March 2019.


Your healthcare rights, pension and other benefit provisions will remain the same as they are today. This means that those of you who have paid into the UK system – and indeed UK nationals who have paid into the system of an EU Member State – can benefit from what you have put in and continue to benefit from existing co-ordination rules for future contributions.

More or less.

We have also agreed to protect the rights of those who are in a cross-border situation at the point of our withdrawal and entitled to a UK European Health Insurance Card. This includes, for example, tourists for the duration of their stay, students for the duration of their course and UK nationals resident in another EU Member State.

Although you are of course all Citizens of Nowhere, and I’d sooner you never darkened our shores again.

The agreement we have reached includes reciprocal rules to protect existing decisions to recognise professional qualifications – for example for doctors and architects.

Someone told me the other day that all the doctors are leaving.

And it also enables you to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing your settled status – more than double the period allowed under current EU law.

We really wanted this to be two years, but the EU said “non”. Bally foreigners.

There will be a transparent, smooth and streamlined process to enable you to apply for settled status from the second half of next year.

Because British IT projects are the epitome of streamlined, robust, and reliable.

It will cost no more than applying for a passport.

Sidebar: suggest raising the price of British passports next year to £500.

And if you already have a valid permanent resident document you will be able to have your status converted to settled status free of charge.

Although a valid permanent resident document must be one signed by The Queen, hand delivered by The Queen, and submitted while The Queen stands by your side being Queenlike.

We are also working closely with Switzerland and EEA Member States to ensure their citizens in the UK also benefit from these arrangements.

Someone reminded me last week that these places existed.

I have spent many hours discussing these issues with all of the other 27 EU leaders over the last eighteen months as well as with President Juncker, President Tusk and the EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier. I am confident that when the European Council meets later this week it will agree to proceed on this basis. And I will do everything I can to ensure that we do.

So right now, you do not have to do anything at all.

Trust us!

You can look forward, safe in the knowledge that there is now a detailed agreement on the table

Although only currently on the table, and not in law.

in which the UK and the EU have set out how we intend to preserve your rights – as well as the rights of UK nationals living in EU countries.

Unless they wanted free movement. But then only Citizens of Nowhere want that.

For we have ensured that these negotiations put people first.

Albeit 18 months late.

That is what I promised to do and that is what I will continue to do at every stage of this process.

Although not to the point of having the Home Office right now stop enforcing CSI in a manner the EU vehemently disagrees with, because that would be too easy.

I wish you and all your families a great Christmas and a very happy New Year.

In limbo.