Brexit latest: Theresa May issues direct plea to EU citizens and says 'I want you to stay'

Prime Minister Theresa May shakes hands with Jean-Claude Juncker: Reuters

Theresa May today acknowledged the “anxiety” of EU citizens living and working in the UK and issued a direct plea: “I want you to stay.”

In an open letter in tonight’s Evening Standard, the Prime Minister said that she was “proud” that three million had chosen to make their homes in Britain.

“I greatly value the depth of the contributions you make — enriching every part of our economy, our society, our culture and our national life,” Mrs May wrote. “I know our country would be poorer if you left and I want you to stay.” She hailed Friday’s EU agreement as a full safeguard for all the rights that EU citizens currently enjoy.

She promised a “smooth and streamlined” process for them to be granted settled status in perpetuity.

“I know that on an issue of such significance for you and your families, there has been an underlying anxiety which could only be addressed when the fine details of some very complex and technical issues had been worked through,” said Mrs May.

She confirmed that the EU citizens will be allowed to bring dependent parents and grandparents to live in the UK and that identical rights to settled status will be offered to people from the wider EEA bloc, including Norway and Switzerland, subject to a separate agreement.

Maike Bohn, of the3million lobbying group, said Friday’s draft deal had failed to allay her concerns. “They are very good at fluffy language but we do not feel reassured, particularly since David Davis suggested nothing was binding,” she said. “We foresee a lot of heartache and chaos down the line.”