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No Deportations for EU Citizens Even With No-Deal Brexit, Davis Says

Don’t worry, David Davis is keen to point out: No European Union citizens will be deported from Britain after the country leaves the bloc, even if it fails to secure a trade deal.

The Brexit secretary tried to put to rest the lingering concerns of more than 3 million people who feel their future is in doubt with the final outcome of negotiations unclear.

Exceptions will apply to criminals and those who pose a threat to Britain, Davis told a panel of lawmakers in Parliament on Wednesday, but the operating principle is that “we view the position of British citizens abroad and EU citizens here -- 3.7 million is now the latest number -- as a moral responsibility."

It’s a point the government has repeatedly made since triggering Brexit 10 months ago, but it’s yet to make any guarantees in law -- providing a seedling of doubt for EU citizens who settled in the U.K.

Davis undid his own work on reassuring them last month when he referred to provisions in a preliminary divorce deal with the EU, as “much more a statement of intent than it was a legally enforceable thing.” While he wasn’t talking about citizens’ rights, it raised questions about the enforceability of the rest of the document, including guarantees to EU residents.

“There’s never, ever going to be a circumstance where we’re going to be deporting people,” Davis told Parliament’s Exiting the European Union Committee. “Our determination through all of this has been to ensure they can continue their lives as it is now, and we will deliver on that whatever the circumstances in two to three years’ time.”

But what if you’re a citizen of Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, countries that participate in the EU’s single market, but aren’t members of the bloc? Davis wasn’t sure. “I think they’re OK,” he said. “But let me write to the committee and give you detail on that.”

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