Swayne votes to block physical proof for 2950 EU citizens in the New Forest
The Liberal Democrats have warned that Desmond Swayne, Conservative MP for New Forest West, is risking a “new Windrush-style scandal”, after he voted to refuse to offer EU citizens physical proof of their right to stay in the UK.
On Monday (19th October), Tory MPs overturned a Liberal Democrat amendment to the Immigration Bill, which passed in the House of Lords just weeks ago. The amendment would require the Home Office to give EU Citizens physical proof of Settled and Pre-Settled Status, rather than the digital-only system the Home Office is currently pursuing.
Conservatives in the House of Commons rejected the amendment by 331 votes to 260. Desmond Swayne was among those voting to scrap the amendment, while Liberal Democrat MPs and MPs in all other parties voted to retain it.
The latest Home Office figures show that, as of the end of June, 2950people in the New Forest have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme for the right to stay in the UK after the Brexit transition period ends. 1830 have been granted Settled Status so far, while a further 970 have been granted temporary Pre-Settled Status.
Following the vote, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:
“The Conservatives’ decision to overturn this Liberal Democrat amendment shows how empty their promises to guarantee citizens’ rights after Brexit really are. Their Hostile Environment is, sadly, alive and well.
“The Windrush Scandal showed the devastating impact of the Hostile Environment on people who cannot easily prove their rights. By denying EU citizens physical proof of Settled Status, the Government risks making them the victims of a new Windrush-style Scandal.”
Cllr Jack Davies, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for New Forest West, said:
“EU citizens in the New Forest are our families and friends, our colleagues and carers. They have been living under a cloud of uncertainty for far too long.
“By refusing to provide EU citizens with physical proof of their rights and forcing them to rely on a digital code and an online Home Office database, Desmond Swayne is putting them at risk of discrimination.
“Liberal Democrats are fighting for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, with physical proof of their status.”
Notes to editors:
The amendment (Amendment 5) was originally tabled by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oates and passed by the House of Lords earlier this month.
See below for the full text of Lords Amendment 5 to the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill:
Insert the following new Clause—
“EU Settlement Scheme: physical documented proof
(1) The Secretary of State must issue physical proof confirming pre-settled status or settled status to all EEA and Swiss nationals and their families who have been granted such status under the EU Settlement Scheme and who request such proof.
(2) No fee may be charged for issuing physical proof under this section.”
The full list of MPs who voted to reject the Lords Amendment (Aye) and to retain it (No) is available here.
The latest EU Settlement Scheme statistics by Local Authority are available here.