Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, is receiving thousands of requests from Britons who are seeking to retain their EU citizenship after Brexit. In December 2016 Mr Verhofstadt revealed a plan to offer individual Britons “associate citizenship” in the EU, for a fee. Such citizenship would allow the individual to retain the right of free movement to live and work in the EU, and the right to vote in European Parliament elections. Mr Verhofstadt, speaking on the UK’s LBC radio station, said “I don’t say that this will be ultimately possible, but [is] what I am looking for” and that “it’s very important that it is not the citizens of the UK who become the victim of this new situation and of the Brexit”. Mr Verhofstadt did however state that whilst his aim was not to punish the UK on Brexit, giving the UK a better deal than it had when inside the European Union “would be suicide” as it would be at the cost of the European taxpayer.
Mr Verhofstadt’s statement came on the same day that Amber Rudd, the Government’s Home Secretary, suggested that EU migrants could be barred from coming to a post-Brexit Britain unless they have job. Ms Rudd, speaking to MPs in the Home Affairs select committee, highlighted the fact that the current EU immigration figure of 82,000 “is a large number” and the Government remained committed to reducing net migration to the UK to the tens of thousands. Ms Rudd acknowledged that it would take some time to reduce the numbers of immigrants to such a level.