All EU nationals currently living in Britain will be allowed to stay following Brexit, after the Home Office discovered that five in six could not legally be deported.
There are around 3.6 million EU citizens living in the UK, more than 80 per cent of whom will have permanent residency rights by the time Britain leaves the union in early 2019, official research has concluded.
The remainder – more than 600,000 people – will be offered an amnesty, with several Cabinet ministers telling The Telegraph that those citizens will be offered the right to stay permanently, in a policy that may prove controversial.
Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has refused to guarantee the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK, saying she believes that the Government must not “reveal its hand” ahead of Brexit negotiations, which will begin when she triggers Article 50 next year.
Once an EU citizen has been in the UK for more than five years, they are given permanent residency rights.
Home Office research has concluded that when Britain leaves the EU, just over 80 per cent of EU citizens in the UK will qualify for residency, sources said. “The remaining people will, of course, be allowed to stay in the UK,” a senior source said.
“That’s a given. We just need to work out exactly how we do it.”
Another Cabinet source said: “They will be allowed to remain in Britain. But it is important that reciprocal agreements are made with the EU to ensure that British people abroad get the same rights.”