BRITONS living in France will instantly be deemed illegal immigrants if the UK crashes out of the European Union without an exit deal, Emmanuel Macron’s government has proposed.
Visas would be needed to visit the country for summer holidays or a quick jaunt to Paris if the plans take effect.
Anyone wanting to stay longer than three months would have to apply for extended permission and British workers would require permits. The draft Bill emerged as Theresa May arrived for crunch Brexit talks in Brussels. ‘In case of withdrawal of the UK from the EU without agreement, British nationals currently residing in France and their family members would be staying illegally,’ the document says.
Jayne Adye, of campaign group Get Britain Out, said: ‘This is an insult to our country as well as our joint shared past and the whole Brexit process.
‘What makes this all the more unpalatable is that, after the Salzburg summit, Theresa May came out and explicitly guaranteed the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.’
But Labour MP Owen Smith, a backer of anti-Brexit campaign group Best For Britain, said: ‘The government has for over two years treated with contempt the future of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU. Now this draft legislation from the French government shows us the scale of rights being ripped away from Brits by Brexit.’
Mrs May last night told Mr Macron, European Council president Donald Tusk and the other EU national leaders that ‘trust, courage and leadership’ would be needed to avoid a no-deal exit.
She was welcomed by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker before giving a 30-minute speech.
The European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said afterwards that she had shown willingness to consider extending the post-Brexit transition period from 21 months to three years, but offered ‘nothing substantially new’.
Mrs May was excluded from a dinner meeting as the other leaders discussed their position. A Brussels official said they had agreed that a summit next month – where it had been hoped a deal might be signed – would be cancelled as too little progress had been made. They would arrange to meet ‘if and when’ there is a breakthrough, the official said.
If neither side offers to give ground, they will be continue to be divided over the ‘Irish backstop’ – how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic if free trade in goods between the UK and EU ends.
Mr Macron last night praised the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier – but not Mrs May – saying: ‘Lots of things have been done but we must now accelerate the work. I trust Mr Barnier and his team, who have done remarkable work.’
The French Brexit Bill also says border checks on goods and passengers would resume in the event of a no-deal – acknowledging that it would cause delays at ports. German chancellor Angela Merkel warned she could impose similar travel restrictions on Britons if no agreement can be reached.
Britain and France have annual trade of £42billion and only Germany accounts for more visits to France than the UK.
Britain has said it could bring in a speedy online visa system for EU tourists and business visitors after Brexit. Applications would be processed in advance to avoid delays at the border.