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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

UK Government doomed to repeat mistakes over and over

Reports that the new Home Secretary is proposing to end freedom of movement for EU citizens immediately after a no-deal Brexit are both predictable and disturbing.

It is predictable because Brexit has always been about isolating the UK in the world and taking us back to the pre-World War One era of Empire, when Britain ruled the waves and all was right in the world. It is an unachievable fantasy but one that is nevertheless driving the actions of UK Ministers.

It is disturbing of course because, as the Guardian reports, it could create a hostile environment for European nationals. They quote The3million, a citizens group that represents the rights of EU nationals in the UK, who question why home secretary, Priti Patel, intends to impose new border restrictions overnight on 31 October when an internal government discussion paper has warned that doing so could present “legitimate concerns of another Windrush”:

The document also set out details of an alternative plan to maintain freedom of movement until January 2021 and to allow EU immigrants who came to the UK in the meantime to apply to stay under existing “settled status” rules.

But Home Office sources told the Times that the document did not reflect government thinking and that freedom of movement for people from EU countries would end “on October 31 should we leave without a deal”. Amid reports that the government wishes to make the change through a statutory instrument – meaning that MPs would only be required to endorse the move after its implementation – the3million said the plan could open the way to mass discrimination.

The group renewed its call for all EU nationals to be automatically granted settled status and accused the prime minister, Boris Johnson, of undermining his promise to guarantee the rights and protections of EU citizens.

“The idea of ending freedom of movement abruptly on 31 October in case of no deal is reckless politics,” said Nicholas Hatton, the group’s founder. “It hollows out the prime minister’s unequivocal guarantee to EU citizens he has given only three weeks ago.

“Ending freedom of movement without putting legal provisions in place for those EU citizens who have not yet successfully applied through the settlement scheme will mean that millions of lawful citizens will have their legal status removed overnight.

“We have been calling for the settlement scheme to be a declaratory registration scheme, so all EU citizens who have made the UK their home are automatically granted status, as promised by those in government.

“Otherwise this will open the door to mass discrimination under the hostile environment, with employers, landlords, banks and the NHS unable to distinguish between those EU citizens with the right to live and work in the UK and those without.”

The corollary to this of course is the impact on UK citizens living and working in Europe. Have the UK Government even considered the impact on those individuals and their families? It seems that they have not.
> the pre-World War One era
At least travel within Europe was unfettered for those who could afford it before the Great War. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passport#History) Johnson and Patel would return us to those dark post-1914 xenophobic days.

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