Michael Gove, the environment secretary, will offer three million European Union (EU) citizens the chance of free British nationality if he is elected as the Prime Minister, a close source revealed.
People from the 27 European nations, who were resident in the UK at the time of the June 2016 referendum, would be eligible for a British passport under the scheme.
Mr. Gove previously ran for the chair in 2016, infamously sabotaging Mr. Boris Johnson’s campaign after initially backing him. This year he is standing as a self-styled ‘unity candidate’.
Mr. Gove’s decision to run against him is being considered as the biggest threat to a Johnson premiership.
Under Mr. Gove’s plan, the EU nationals would not have to pay a £1,330 fee in 2021 because they resided in the United Kingdom when the referendum was held in June 2016. The Naturalization fees had risen drastically in recent years, evoking criticism that it was becoming a major barrier to application.
The Home Office’s settlement status scheme, under which the EU nationals must prove they have lived in the UK for five years or they may lose their rights, would also be changed to a registration scheme, under Michael Gove’s plans.
“They would, as British citizens, be able to vote in general elections, so it would swell the franchise by up to three million people at the next general election in 2022.
“It’s the Conservative Party which initiated this whole debacle, of EU citizens being deprived of their rights. We should sort it out. In a sense, it is apologizing and saying we welcome you, we want you to join the British family.”
‘I believe that I’m ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist Party, ready to deliver Brexit, and ready to lead this great country,’ said he.
Mr. Gove will also water down the controversial ‘settled status’ scheme for EU nationals who wish to stay in the country beyond June 2021. Only, they must apply to the settlement scheme.
Applicants have been asked to prove their identity, declare any criminal convictions and upload a facial photograph.
Government estimates indicate that around 4 million EEA citizens will be eligible to apply for the settlement scheme.
The 2019 contest will officially commence on 10 June, three days after Ms. May officially steps down.
May declared on Friday that she was quitting over her failure to deliver Brexit, and a host of potential candidates to replace her in her Conservative Party have already emerged. In January Mrs. May scrapped a £65 fee for EU citizens wanting to stay in Britain after Brexit on the same day as the registration policy was rolled out.
A source close to him revealed: “Michael Gove is ready to unite the country. Guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals here in the UK through a declaratory scheme, and making a generous offer of citizenship to those lawfully here at the time of the referendum, is the first step in that direction. This is simply the right thing to do – honoring the promise of Vote Leave that EU nationals studying, working and living in the UK were welcome to stay. Michael Gove led that campaign and now he’s ready to deliver Brexit.”