Legal experts cast doubt on chances of EU citizens to retain all their rights after Brexit

The chances of EU citizens settled in Britain retaining all their rights to live, work and retire in the UK after Brexit have been rated as zero by legal experts, according to an article in The Guardian.

Prof Alan Vaughan Lowe QC, a barrister who specialises in international public law, told a House of Lords committee earlier this week that it was “inconceivable” that the laws would survive entirely intact. There are some 3 million EU citizens living in the UK.

Such was the uncertainty surrounding negotiations and the demands of other EU states, he said, that the British government might have to consider compensation for British citizens abroad if some rights, such as access to Spanish or French healthcare, were lost.

Legal entitlements such as the right to work, reside, retire, vote in local elections and have access to welfare and health systems come automatically from Britain’s membership of the EU.

Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, a professor of law at Queen Mary University of London, pointed out there was no transparency in the Brexit negotiations, so it was difficult to assess what interests the government would seek to protect. 

“I can’t see any practical possibility whatsoever of getting a withdrawal agreement that ties up all the legal issues,” Professor Lowe said.

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