Following the vote that took place on the evening of Tuesday 15 January 2019, the UK Government has rejected the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement that had been put forward by Theresa May following the many months of discussions with the European Union.
Current options that may now come to light following the rejection may include:
- A No-deal Brexit on March 29 2019. If no further deal is approved before March 29 2019. The situation would mean that EU nationals living in the United Kingdom would then be required to make the application for Settled Status under the Settlement Scheme to ensure that they can remain in the UK;
- A re-negotiation of the Withdrawal agreement (if possible with the EU committee;
- A motion of No-Confidence challenge to be made by opposition parties that would challenge Theresa May’s leadership of the Government; and
- An extension of the Article 50 negotiation period. This would delay Brexit, with current reports stating that the delay could be until June 2019, at the earliest.
The EU Settlement scheme looks to still go ahead: Despite the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement, the Government are still looking to implement the EU Settlement Scheme for qualifying EU Nationals and their family members who currently reside in the UK prior to the current leaving date of 29 March 2019. It is to be believed that the terms of the Settlement scheme will be changed, and could look less generous to EU nationals than if the Withdrawal Agreement had been passed during the vote.
The rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement leaves the UK one step closer to a no-deal Brexit, although, with more discussions to now be held within the UK, any of the previously mentioned options (as stated prior), now believed to be available to the UK may yet have an impact on the Brexit situation, and how the UK moves forward with Brexit. A close look and potential further impacts could be:
- EU Nationals in the UK: a no-deal Brexit would essentially mean that EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals currently living in the UK on or before 29 March 2019, would not need to leave, and would then need to make the application as stated by the Government in the Settlement Scheme, to essentially register their presence in the UK. At present, it is unclear on the policy that would then need to be followed for EU and EEA nationals who then decide to enter the UK after 29 March 2019;
- UK Nationals living in the EU: UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland before Brexit may still be able to remain in their respective countries, however, it is very likely that they would also be required to make applications in the respective countries for Immigration status in their respective countries. At present, some EU Member states have started to set out contingency plans for the situation in case of a no-deal Brexit, with France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland and Italy being some of the first countries to release details. It is very likely that UK nationals will lose their free movement rights in the European Union, with this having an impact on those seeking work in the EU, EEA and Switzerland after Brexit. It is very likely that any UK national seeking work, would then need to make an application for a work permit or similar Immigration status in order to work. Current processing time frames that are estimated for different Work Permits in Europe, range from one to six months, dependent on the destination and the application process. This estimated time frame could increase if it was that UK nationals after Brexit were then required to make valid applications for Work permits in either the EU, EEA and Switzerland.
We will be keeping a close eye on proceedings and commenting on developments over the forthcoming days and weeks.