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EU citizens must have automatic right to stay, as Settled Status refusals soar

March 19, 2020 5:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats are calling for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, as new official figures show the number of people refused Settled Status soaring last month.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine urged the Government to back the Private Members' Bill she tabled last month that would guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK.

The Home Office statistics, published today, show that 300 applications were refused in February, after a total of only 7 refusals in the scheme up to the end of January.

They also show that just 1.7 million of the estimated 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK have been granted Settled Status so far. A further 1.2 million have only been given the temporary "Pre-Settled Status", which forces them to reapply within 5 years. Meanwhile, there is a backlog of 345,000 applications waiting for a decision.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

"EU citizens in the UK have been living under a cloud of uncertainty for far too long. They are our families and friends, our colleagues and carers. They must have the right to stay.

"Even before the coronavirus crisis, we were warning that tens of thousands of EU citizens will be left without Settled Status when the Conservative Government's arbitrary deadline hits next year.

"That would leave thousands of people effectively undocumented and at risk of eviction, detention and even deportation. It will be a new Windrush Scandal on an even bigger scale.

"Liberal Democrats are fighting for the rights of EU citizens. The Government should back our Bill to give them the automatic right to stay in the UK, as Boris Johnson has repeatedly promised."