Settled Status a “Damp Squib”?

Oh, for crying out loud.

Brexit!  Yes, that’s apparently going to happen eventually.  If you don’t know what that is about, don’t bother reading any further because I’m not going to explain it — try Wikipedia on Brexit.  Then come back and read on.

One of the questions needing resolution is the status of those who are not UK citizens but are European Union citizens living in the UK.  The British government proposes to let those who have been in the UK for at least five years stay in the UK after Brexit takes full effect and proposes to give them “Settled” status.  Those who have been there less than five years will be allowed to stay and will become eligible to apply for “Settled” status after they have been there for five years.  There’s a bit more to it than that (see the official UK government page for a full description of the proposal), but that’s the nutshell.

It seems fair to me!  After all, as the Yank husband of a native-born British citizen, they didn’t just hand me gratis permission to become “Settled”: I’ve had to pay a non-trivial and non-refundable fee to apply for “Settled” status, along with documenting my life in detail, and have been waiting months for them to decide whether or not I’m safe to let into the country on a permanent basis.  All those EU citizen types who are there already are getting a very sweet deal!

But BBC News reports that European Parliament chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt says this proposal is a “damp squib”!  I’m still struggling to figure out what “damp squib” means in this context, but he clearly doesn’t think much of the proposal.  I don’t know why since the proposal seems more than fair to me.

Mr. Verhofstadt has said of the UK proposal:

“It creates a type of second class citizenship for European Citizens in the UK.  We don’t see why their rights should be diminished and that would be the case in the proposal.”

Well, I’ve read the proposal, and I don’t see it.  For one thing, EU citizens in the UK aren’t second-class citizens even now, because they’re not citizens in the first place!  So Verhofstadt’s complaint is a contradiction in its own terms.  I’ve read the British government’s proposal completely, and as far as I can see, no rights at all are proposed to be diminished.  What the EU proposes for UK citizens in the EU seems possibly more generous than the UK’s proposal, but if the EU were to mirror the UK proposal in the EU’s own proposal, I don’t think this would be at all a problem.

This particular teapot tempest reminds one forcibly of why British voters chose to get out of the EU.  Because the EU is a festering pile of bureaucratic nonsense that is only going to get worse over time.  And it’s becoming more clear day after day.

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