Problems with the British governments plans to register EU citizens for settled status after Brexit have not been sufficiently addressed, the European Parliaments Brexit chief has warned.
On Wednesday Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, travelled to Brussels to meet with Guy Verhofstadt, the parliaments Brexit coordinator in a bid to placate his and other MEPs concerns with British plans.
The Windrush scandal, which claimed the job of Mr Javids predecessor Amber Rudd at the end of last month, has spooked EU citizens groups and some MEPs who worry that lives could be ruined by a similar Home Office disaster.
EU citizens have already faced a number of immigration system mishaps following Brexit; some were wrongly sent deportation letters by the Home Office last year an incident that caused some to spend thousands of legal fees, and which Theresa May described as an unfortunate error.
Mr Javids meeting with Mr Verhofstadt also came just a day after Mr Javid admitted more than 60 people with a right to live in the UK may have been wrongly deported, according to his departments latest analysis.
The European Parliament has sought a number of assurances on how easy and simple the system would be. The registration scheme was ridiculed last month after it emerge that iPhone users would not be able to use a scanning feature in the registration app, which would only be available for Android phones.
It was a pleasure to meet with Mr Javid today and I look forward to working with him closely in order to provide more certainty for both EU and UK citizens after Brexit. We agreed to work closely together to get this right, Mr Verhofstadt said after the one-on-one meeting at the Parliaments Brussels base.
I welcome Mr Javid’s response to the European Parliament’s concerns about the Home Office’s proposed registration procedure for EU citizens in the UK and related matters, but at this time we do not believe our anxieties have yet been sufficiently addressed. We reiterate our belief that the registration process should, as a matter of principle, be cost-free. It is unacceptable that citizens who were never consulted on Brexit should have to pay to retain their existing rights.
He added: MEPs remain concerned about the technological shortcomings of the proposed registration app and the fact that any alternative is limited to sending passports by post only, the lack of clarity for vulnerable groups, the length of the process, the consequence of criminality checks and that families may not be able to register using one form.
The European Parliament has been resolute in pressing to further the rights of UK citizens in the EU, including in particular the right to free movement for UK citizens resident in the EU after Brexit. As a Parliament, we are united in the belief that neither EU citizens in the UK or UK citizens in the EU should be punished because of Brexit.”
Mr Javid left the meeting without making any comment to waiting reporters, and was hurried away from the press back into an elevator by a group of his aides. There were comedic scenes after an official pressed the wrong button in the lift, causing the doors to re-open and delay the ministers escape.
The Independent has contacted the Home Office to see if the secretary of states department would provide comment for him.