Brexit: Swaraj says no problem for migrants till process gets over


External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Rajya Sabha

File Photo of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Rajya Sabha

The Brexit task is not yet completed and there won’t be any problem to Indians till the process gets over, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

The British Parliament will start the discussion on this issue from January 7 and there will be more clarity on the relationship between the UK and the European Union in the second fortnight of this month, she added.

“It won’t be definite to say anything at this point of time. The whole process will take two years and till then there will not be any problem,” Swaraj said.

Any uncertainty will be known after the process is completed, she said.

In a written reply, the Minister said after the Brexit day – March 29, 2019 – when the UK leaves the EU, there will be a transition period till December 31, 2020.

During this transition period, the UK will continue to be governed by the EU rules in its commitments thereof.

“However, during the transition period, the UK will be able to negotiate, sign and ratify new agreements with other countries, but they will not come into force until the end of the transition period of December 31,2020,” she said.

In the India-UK joint statement of April 2018, it was agreed that both sides will ensure continued application of EU-India agreements to the UK during the transition period and put in place arrangements to replicate relevant EU-India agreements beyond this period, she added.

As regards the impact of Brexit on Indian-origin people who have migrated to the UK on Portuguese passports, Swaraj said that the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ signed between the UK and the EU, which is yet to be voted upon in the British Parliament “protects all EU citizens residing in the UK in accordance with the conditions prescribed in the ‘EU Free Movement Law”.

The EU citizens can continue to stay in the UK at the end of transition period December 31, 2020, if they meet any one of the four conditions such as if they are workers or self-employed in the UK and have sufficient resources and sickness insurance, she added.

The Minister said the Brexit is essentially an issue that concerns the UK government and the EU. However, government of India is closely following the Brexit process.

Swaraj was reponding to a query from Congress leader Kumar Ketkar who wanted to know the government’s approach to protect migrant Indians in Britain after Brexit.