Boris Johnson has unilaterally declared to EU citizens living in the UK that “your rights will be protected whatever happens” after Brexit.
Speaking at an evening reception last Tuesday, the foreign secretary gave a much more concrete guarantee than the prime minister, who has held off promising to continue EU citizens’ rights until those of UK citizens in the rest of the EU have been secured.
Johnson made the promise at a gathering of the Belvedere Forum on Polish-UK relations, which was later tweeted out by the official account of the UK embassy in Poland.
We have 30,000 businesses in this country that are Polish. We have 1 million Poles in Britain,” the foreign secretary said. “We are thoroughly blessed, we are lucky. And I have only one message for you all tonight: you are loved, you are welcome, your rights will be protected whatever happens. Yes. You are recording this? Your rights will be protected whatever happens.”
Only hours earlier, Johnson had been more circumspect when he told the House of Commons that the deal on EU citizens had not yet been settled and it was “up to our friends and partners in the EU now to look seriously at the offer we are making and, particularly on citizens, to make progress”.
“Everybody wants to make progress, everybody wants to give the 3.2 million EU citizens in this country the maximum possible reassurance and security. That can only happen once our friends and partners decide to get serious in these negotiations,” he told MPs.