The Wicked Witch’s Past is Catching Her Up
The Guardian has this: “Britons living in the EU face Brexit backlash, leaked paper warns“:-
“The internal document drawn up by the European parliament’s legal affairs committee says it will be down to each member state to decide whether British citizens are allowed to carry on living within their respective borders after 2019, but adds: “The fact that it appears to be particularly difficult for foreign nationals, even if married to UK nationals or born in the UK, to acquire permanent residence status or British nationality may colour member states’ approach to this matter.”
The difficulties referred to are a continuation of the disgraceful policies designed and put in place when Teresa May was Home Secretary. They were originally devised to provide excuses for removing non EU/EEA immigrants. Now they are being deployed to try and force EU/EEA nationals to leave the UK. According to the article a cross-party group of the European parliament has established a task force to investigate the complaints, and a parliamentary hearing is expected to be announced in the coming days, to which a UK minister will be asked to give evidence.
One doubts that the Witch herself will deign to attend, but it will be interesting to see which Minister draws the short straw for attending the hearing and seeking to defend the indefensible.
What’s Wrong with the Process
For an understanding of what will be troubling the EU Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee see the remarks of Andrew Tingley, a partner of the prominent firm of solicitors, Kingsley Napley, who specialises in immigration matters as also reported in the Guardian: “EU citizens in UK could face ‘deliberate hostility’ policy after Brexit“:-
- The Home Office has deliberately operated a “hostile environment” policy for years in an effort to get non-EU immigration numbers down;
- The Home Office has in effect outsourced immigration control to employers, landlords, banks and airlines, allowing them to seek proof of residency and create havoc for people if they do not have documents.
- If a non citizen does not have the proper residence document (a) an employer can terminate employment, (b) his landlord may not renew his lease (c) the DVLA can revoke his driving licence (d) his bank may close his account and he will start to get letters, phone calls and text messages telling him to leave the UK or be deported.
EU residents who have applied for a permanent resident card are faced with the completion of an 85 page form – it can be seen on line here on the INS website. It is what one might describe as typical of the nastiness of the Wicked Witch and her minions. It costs £65 for each adult and child applying. For the full horror see also the Guidance Notes also on the INS web site.
See also one of the many stories: “Brexit: Dutch woman who was told to leave UK now allowed to stay – Monique Hawkins, who has lived in Britain for 24 years, secures permanent residency a week after Guardian revealed plight” which includes this comment:-
“Her case shows how ill-equipped the Home Office will be if all EU citizens settled in the UK have to go through the permanent residency process. The Home Office has a backlog of 100,000 applications and says they can take up to six months to process. The 3million, a group campaigning for the rights of EU citizens to remain in the country, has calculated that it could take 47 years to process 3 million applications at the current rate“.
Can this be Fixed ?
There is a chance that sanity will prevail as the Brexit Bill moves to the Lords. In the Upper House the Government does not have a majority.
The Second Reading Debate is scheduled for 20-21 February and a number of proposed amendments to the Bill have already been tabled – see the Running List of Tabled Amendments up to 13th February 2017. Already two of the tabled amendments seek to protect the rights of EU/EEC nationals in the UK.
If the view of the EU Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee is correct and it results that each member state will have to decide how it will deal with the rights of UK residents post Brexit, then it is highly desirable that the UK Parliament sets a good example.
The House of Lords can do much to make a start on this issue. Any amendment they make will have to return to the Commons. The process is known as “parliamentary ping-pong”.
But it is the Government which has set its timetable for notifying the UK’s intention to leave the EU. It may have to concede some matters in order to meet the timetable.