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Tory Brexiteer Daniel Hannan says treatment of EU citizens could end in 'another Windrush scandal'

Tory MEP says he has seen cases of consituents wrongly denied right to stay in the UK 

Jon Stone
Brussels
Thursday 29 August 2019 15:42 BST
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(PA Archive/PA Images)

A leading Brexiteer has warned that the government's treatment of EU citizens during Brexit risks turning into another Windrush scandal.

Daniel Hannan, a Tory MEP who has long campaigned for Britain to leave the bloc, said he had seen cases of his EU national constituents being denied settled status despite living in the UK for years.

He accepted that the reality of the Home Office scheme, which was unveiled by Theresa May's government, was not in line with promises given during the referendum.

"I have had constituency cases of EU nationals being denied settled status despite living here for years," Mr Hannan said.

Directing his message to the Home Secretary, he added: "This is a breach of the assurances I and other Leavers gave during the referendum. Please help sort this out Priti Patel, before we end up with another Windrush scandal."

In March 2016 ahead of the Brexit referendum Mr Hannan downplayed fears that leaving the EU could cause problems for citizens of other European countries.

"It's irresponsible to scare EU nationals in the UK by hinting that their status might change after Brexit. No one's suggesting such a thing," he said at the time.

Campaigners have long warned that the scheme could go wrong. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said as early as January this year that it could result in tens of thousands of EU nationals becoming undocumented. In January the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said too many people would be missed out by the scheme.

Labour MEP Rory Palmer said anyone who had studied the scheme before it was rolled out would have seen it was "blindingly obvious" that it could go wrong.

“It was clear from the outset that the Settled Status scheme had the makings of a scandal like Windrush, I’m sad and angry those predictions are proving to be the case," he told The Independent.

“Many of us, MEPs and MPs in Westminster, have been raising concerns for months and months about the scheme and its chaotic implementation. No one who has taken more than a passing interest in this can be surprised by the deeply upsetting and distressing accounts from EU nationals who are been denied Settled Status.”

He added: “EU nationals living and working in the UK, people who have made their lives here, our friends, neighbours, workmates, our fellow citizens deserve better than this.”

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Earlier this week it emerged that the Advertising Standards Agency had banned a Home Office advert about the scheme for being misleading.

The advert claimed that EU citizens only need a passport or ID cards and did not explain that additional documentation was often required.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “By the end of June, not a single person had been refused the status for which they applied. Nobody has been granted pre-settled status without first being offered, and declining, the opportunity to submit evidence that they qualify for settled status.

"More than 1 million people have been granted status through the EU Settlement Scheme so far and two thirds of those have been granted settled status, which is in line with our expectations.”

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