POLITICS
22/11/2018 21:38 GMT

Theresa May Sidesteps Question On What Benefits EU Migrants Can Claim After Brexit

The government had previously said EU nationals would be barred from collecting in-work benefits.

Theresa May has sidestepped a question on what benefits EU migrants will be allowed to claim in the UK post-Brexit. 

The government had previously promised that EU nationals would be barred from collecting in-work benefits unless they have been employed for at least four years. 

Ministers have also said the UK will operate a skills-based visa system in future, with EU nationals having the same rights as migrants from anywhere in the world. 

But the political declaration published on Thursday, which sets out the future relationship the UK will have with the European Union, states that the UK will “consider addressing social security co-ordination” for migrants. 

And whether the UK will now negotiate a different benefits system for EU nationals is now in question. 

The line set out in the political declaration, added when the document was republished 

Labour MP Angela Smith quizzed the PM about the issue in the Commons and May appeared to avoid answering on the issue directly.

Smith said: “The political declaration contains some interesting extra additions from last’s week draft, including paragraph 54, which says that the parties agree to consider addressing social sec co in the light of future movement of persons. 

“That sounds as though EU nationals working in the UK under the terms of an agreement will be able to continue claiming benefits from our benefits system. 

“Can the PM clarify?” 

May replied: “This is in relation to some very specific issue which I am happy to write to the honourable lady about.” 

It came as MPs from all sides of the political divide united to savage May’s “horror” Brexit deal. 

The PM in the House of Commons on Thursdayx

The government has said that after Brexit free movement – one of four key pillars of EU membership – will end. 

May has previously confirmed the government wants migrants from Europe to come and work in the UK to ensure vital public services such as the NHS continue to benefit from their skills. 

“What’s important is that we’re developing those with a recognition of the importance of ensuring we can still welcome people from European Union countries to work and to visit the United Kingdom in future and ensuring we do that in the best and fairest way possible,” she said.

HuffPost UK has contacted No. 10 for comment.