Leading EU figure Guy Verhofstadt has warned that the action of the Conservatives are threatening post-Brexit trade negotiations.
Speaking in European Parliament today, during a debate on EU citizens’ rights, Verhofstadt said that Europe’s concerns would need to be addressed, before they could agree a free trade agreement (FTA).
Verhofstadt, who chairs the Brexit Steering Group in European Parliament, said: “I cannot imagine that the European Parliament will agree, for example an FTA, without solving the problem and the concerns of the EU citizens and UK citizens.”
He proposed that one way to allay concerns would be for the UK government to automatically recognise the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. Instead, currently, the Tories have devised a system where EU citizens have to apply for settled status in the UK after Brexit.
“The Tory government is always saying that it wants less bureaucracy. Well, ok, let’s make less bureaucracy! The best way to do it is by automatic recognition,” Verhofstadt said.
Indeed, the Tory scheme is so fraught that – as of August 2019 – there were nearly 200,000 backlogged applications from EU citizens.
What’s more – there are concerns that a large number of these individuals are being granted inferior status, due to the complexity of the process.
Boris Johnson said this morning that a comprehensive trade deal with the EU was “epically likely” by the end of the year. If this does happen, it will be no thanks to the Tories.