Leaving the Eu: Rights of EU Citizens

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:44 pm on 5th November 2018.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Chair, Home Affairs Committee 3:44 pm, 5th November 2018

Unfortunately, the Minister did not give us the clarity that we need. Nor did she clear up the confusion from last week, which I had hoped she would do, especially at a time when there is considerable concern for EU citizens, as well as practical concerns for employers about what arrangements will apply in April, May and June next year if no deal takes place.

I welcome the Government’s commitment to respect the rights of those currently living here, who will be able to stay and work as now, but I am still none the wiser about what checks will apply to those EU citizens in the event of no deal. The Minister and the Home Office officials suggested to us that there would be additional employer checks, and also that free movement would be turned off in March. However, the Home Secretary has told the media that in fact there will be a transition period, and that there will be no additional checks for employers if there is no deal.

Will the Minister tell us whether there will be additional employer checks on EU citizens immediately after no deal—yes or no? Will she confirm that EU citizens will not have to provide anything other than a passport or an identity card in order to be able to work? Will she also tell us whether that will then apply until the completion of the roll-out of the EU settlement scheme, which is due to be completed in June 2021? If not, what on earth are EU citizens supposed to provide as proof of their right to work before June 2021 if the settlement scheme has not been completed?

The Minister and the Home Office have now said that there is no way of differentiating between EU citizens arriving here for the first time and those who have been here for many years. Will the Minister confirm that newly arriving EU citizens will also not have to provide anything other than a passport or an ID card, and that they will continue to be able to work under the same arrangements, also until June 2021?

Those are basic questions that the Home Office really should be able to answer. If the facts are not as I have put them to the Minister, she should be able to tell us what the alternative facts are, what alternative information and proof EU citizens are supposed to provide, and what alternative questions employers are supposed to ask. The clock is ticking, and there are only five months left. Surely the Home Office has a grip of those basic questions.