Brexit parliamentary under-secretary Robin Walker has reassured Cypriots living in the UK by virtue of their EU membership that they are welcome in the UK.
“We want to be clear that Cypriots here in the UK are welcome and we want them to stay,” he told the Cyprus News Agency.
Walker was speaking on the sidelines of an event held at the Cyprus High Commission in London on Monday evening to update Cypriot citizens living in the UK on the progress that has been achieved in securing their rights in the country after Brexit, as well as the procedure that will need to be followed for these rights to be secured
A deal reached between London and Brussels last December, translated into a legal text in March, foresees the full protection of all existing rights of EU citizens in the UK up until the end of the transition (or implementation) period that will follow Brexit day (29 March 2019). The transition period will last until the last day of 2020.
This deal extends to all Cypriots currently residing in the UK, as well as those that will be settling in the country before the expiration of the transition period.
However, with the negotiations between London and Brussels ongoing, EU residents of the UK are still concerned about the full protection of their rights. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU Robin Walker was personally present at the High Commission event to try to put these concerns at rest.
“I am here to meet with Cypriots to ensure that we can reassure them about the deals that we have reached so far with the EU to protect the status of EU citizens living in the UK, including the 350,000 Cypriots who are here; to assure them also that we want to continue to invest in and deepen the ties between the UK and Cyprus, which of course go back long before our respective membership of the EU and that we will continue to be key trading partners and key security partners in the years to come,” he told the Cyprus News Agency.
“Of course there is a special relationship between the UK and Cyprus, through a historical relationship, through our membership of the Commonwealth and our membership of the EU. The UK is leaving the EU but we are not leaving Europe and we will continue to remain friends and allies of Cyprus,” he noted.
Importantly, he added, “today’s event is about explaining the detailed arrangements we are putting in place to ensure that Cypriots who are here by virtue of their EU membership and by virtue of the EU free movement right can continue to live in the UK. We want to be very clear that Cypriots here in the UK are welcome and we want them to stay.”
Asked about the eventuality of a limited or no overall deal with the EU on the Brexit terms and the future relationship, the minister replied: “What we have already agreed is that the deal which will apply to EU citizens already in the UK and UK citizens in the EU is something that I believe is important to secure. We have legal agreement on the text of that and how it should work and what we are setting out today is the process the procedure for how the UK will ensure that is delivered.”
“I think that should provide certainty, not only through the exit of the EU but also through the implementation period and afterwards, so that’s absolutely our aim to do that. Of course you are right that there are ongoing negotiations between the UK and the EU and we believe it’s in all our interest to strike a deal, which will bring a strong future partnership between the UK and the EU.”
Referring to when the UK Government will be able to provide details about the future migration system, which will follow the end of the transition period, Walker said he thought it was right that the government was taking its time to gather evidence on that.
“We want to make sure that we understand all the economic and societal impact of that process. Later this year the government will set out more detail in that approach. But I think importantly what we are here to discuss today is about people who are already here living their lives. We want to provide them maximum reassurance that we have a system that will work for the people. Our officials are here to make sure that hear from the Cypriot community so we can meet the priorities of that community in delivering the future system,” added the UK Brexit minister.