Labour MEPs: Safeguards crucial to prevent repeat of Windrush scandal for EU citizens

The application system for EU citizens to register in the UK post-Brexit must be set out in primary legislation or unilateral commitments to avoid a repeat of the Windrush scandal, Labour MEPs warned as the European Parliament today questioned Home Office officials on the UK government’s proposed registration system.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:

“Much like the Windrush scandal, the injustices that East African Asian British citizens suffered in the 1980s and other means by which the Home Office has created a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants, the three million EU citizens in the UK could now face similar injustices.

“It is crucial to push for safeguards for EU citizens in the UK to ensure that their limbo will not continue post-Brexit. Therefore the conditions of the application system need to be set out in primary legislation or unilateral commitments. This will avoid changes to their status post-Brexit after they have settled already in the UK, as has been the case for the Windrush generation.

“If primary legislation is not possible, then it is crucial that unilateral commitments be made by the UK with regard to settled status, and that the withdrawal agreement sets up the independent authority as a joint UK-EU authority to ensure an independent assessment with no bias, in contrast to the Home Office’s hostile attitude to migrants.”

Claude Moraes MEP added:

“Today during a meeting with the UK Home Office hosted by the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group, I will urgently raise the highly concerning immigration exemption in the Data Protection Bill, which would remove the rights of those subject to an immigration procedure to find out what public authorities know about them or to rectify or delete erroneous or unlawfully collected personal data.

“Not only are these discriminatory national immigration restrictions further evidence of the government’s ‘hostile environment’ national immigration policy, flouting the fundamental rights of millions of individuals, but they jeopardise the UK’s chances of obtaining an adequacy agreement ensuring the free flow of data post-Brexit.

“Now is the time to correct the situation before having to manage three million applications from EU citizens in the UK – the Home Office must act to prevent a potential disaster in the making.”