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UK Potential PM Plans to Offer Free UK Citizenship to 3Mln EU Citizens - Reports

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who has joined the race to replace Theresa May once she resigns, is planning to offer an estimated 3 million EU national living in the UK to become citizens free of charge to show them that they are welcome to stay in the country after Brexit as promised, Sky News reported on Tuesday.

"Michael Gove is ready to unite the country. Guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals here in the UK through a declaratory scheme, and making a generous offer of citizenship to those lawfully here at the time of the referendum, is a first step in that direction," a source close to Gove told the broadcaster.

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According to Sky News, Gove's aides confirmed that the citizenship applications would not be subject to the usual fee of 1,330 pounds (almost $1,700) and instead be processed for free.

"This is simply the right thing to do — honouring the promise of Vote Leave that EU nationals studying, working and living in the UK were welcome to stay. Michael Gove led that campaign and now he's ready to deliver Brexit," the source added, as quoted by the broadcaster.

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The offer will cover only those EU citizens who have lived in the United Kingdom for at least five years, which would include the Brexit referendum period in 2016, the broadcaster reported.

On Friday, Prime Minister May announced that she would be stepping down as Conservative leader and, subsequently, as prime minister, on June 7, after failing to achieve a consensus in parliament and within her own party over the country's withdrawal from the European Union.

Gove officially confirmed his bid for the party leadership on Sunday, becoming the eighth candidate to join the race, which includes former UK Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his predecessor, Boris Johnson.

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