Brandon Lewis Threatens To Deport EU Citizens Over Settled Status After Brexit

"This is no way to treat people, let alone what was promised," says 3million campaign.
Security minister Brandon Lewis is seen outside Downing Street in May.
Security minister Brandon Lewis is seen outside Downing Street in May.
Peter Nicholls / Reuters

Security minister Brandon Lewis appears to have threatened EU citizens with deportation should they fail to apply for settled status post-Brexit.

Figures released by the Home Office estimate that one million of the three million EU citizens living in the UK have yet to apply for settled status that will enable them to stay after the country leaves the bloc.

In an interview with German newspaper Die Welt, Lewis suggested that they risk being deported if they fail to apply by the end of 2020.

“If EU citizens have not registered by then without an adequate justification, the immigration rules will apply,” he said.

Asked whether those who did not apply in the next 14 months would face deportation even if they fulfilled all legal conditions for residence, Lewis added: “Theoretically yes. We will apply the rules.”

Maike Bohn, of the 3million campaign which represents EU citizens in Britain, accused Lewis of reneging on a promise.

“We have pressed the government for years on what happens to those who do not have a status in 2021,” he said. “Today, after much wait, it is confirmed that hundreds and thousands of people will be punished with the threat of removal from their home. This is no way to treat people, let alone what was promised.

“We don’t know at all how many people will need to apply – there are no reliable data on the number of EU citizens living in the UK – and there will never be a 100% success rate for a new scheme like the EU settlement scheme.

“Those people who miss the tight deadline will face the full force of the hostile environment. That is the grim reality of the UK government’s position, no matter how many times they repeat the phrase ‘EU citizens and their families are our friends, neighbours and colleagues and we want them to stay’.”

The 3million campaign wants the government to guarantee rights to EU citizens even if they do not apply for settled status under the scheme.

Lewis would later claim that his words were “somewhat taken out of context”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “EU citizens are our friends, family and neighbours and we want them to stay.

“The EU settlement scheme is a free and easy way for EU citizens to get the UK immigration status they need.

“We have received two million applications and are looking for reasons to grant status, not refuse, and EU citizens have until at least December 2020 to apply.

“We’ve always been clear that where they have reasonable grounds for missing the deadline, they’ll be given a further opportunity to apply.”

Lewis’ tough line on EU citizens emerged as Boris Johnson prepared to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Thursday in a last-ditch attempt to thrash out a Brexit deal.

The Northern Irish border remains the sticking point in talks, and other EU leaders have said they will back Ireland’s stance to reject any proposal that includes a hard border.

Chair of the Commons’ home affairs select committee Yvette Cooper said: “It’s outrageous that the security minister is saying that people who have a legal right to be here may be deported in just fourteen months’ time.

“This goes against all the reassurances given by the government that they would do everything to make sure people who have made their lives here can stay.”

The Labour MP added: “It is clear that the government have not learned the lessons from the Windrush scandal, which showed how easily individuals can fall through gaps in the system through no fault of their own, and how easily lives can be destroyed if the government gets this wrong.”


What's Hot