Prime Minister Theresa May has been warned that her current offer on EU worker’s rights in the UK post-Brexit could lead to the creation of a “second-class citizenship”.
It comes as European Parliament’s lead Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt rejected Mrs May’s current proposals on EU citizens’ rights after branding it a “damp squid”.
Claiming the offer presently put forward would cast a “dark cloud” over people’s status Mr Verhofstadt penned a joint article with a cross-party group of senior MEPs suggesting any Brexit deal that did not meet their demands would be vetoed.
A letter from the group of MEPs printed in The Guardian said: “The European Parliament will reserve its right to reject any agreement that treats EU citizens, regardless of their nationality, less favourably than they are at present.
“This is a question of the basic fundamental rights and values that are at the heart of the European project.”
The warning was issued following Mrs May’s proposals last month to allow EU nationals resident in the UK to apply for “settled status” – which would effectively guarantee them indefinite leave to remain in the country – once Britain leaves the EU.
Under the details of the plan any EU citizen who has been living in the UK continuously for five years can get the status.
Those who have been resident for less than five years will also be allowed to stay in the UK but will only be eligible to apply for settled status once they have clocked up the full time requirement.
MEPs however say there are “striking” differences between the UK’s offer and that which was originally set out by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier who said he “wants British people and Europeans to keep the same rights and the same level of protection they currently enjoy”.