UK ambassador to Spain Simon Manley has told Spanish media that the UK is determined to sort out the rights of Spanish citizens in the UK.
“We want the Spanish to stay there and the British here,” he told a Spanish press conference in Madrid yesterday, “There is no more important issue than citizens in these negotiations.”
Both groups remain uncertain about their future residential rights as the UK and the EU have failed to yet secure a concrete agreement on the issue.
Manley added that the UK was keen to sort out the residency rights of Spanish students and workers as soon as possible.
More than 10,000 Spanish students are enrolled in higher education at UK universities.
It comes after UK prime minister Theresa May suggested the more than three million EU citizens living in the UK would have to apply for a residency card after the official day of Brexit in 2019.
The proposal was widely criticised by EU politicians.
May said a new category of foreign resident would be created for the proposed system.
“I understand the frustration this can generate,” Manley told reporters at the UK embassy, “but we want them to stay. We are trying to develop a process for the future that will be as simple as possible.”
Manley stressed the UK government is willing to hear suggestions from Spain towards the creation of such a procedure, hinting at a softening approach on the part of the UK government following heavy EU criticism of May’s initial post-Brexit offer for EU citizens.