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Verhofstadt to raise Brexit Windrush scandal fears with UK government

Luke James
Brussels correspondent
European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt (Getty)

The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator is to meet UK government officials next week over concerns Brexit could bring about another Windrush scandal affecting EU citizens.

Guy Verhofstadt has announced he will meet Home Office representatives next Tuesday to seek assurances that EU citizens who want permission to stay in the UK won’t face a “bureaucratic nightmare.”

He said the need for an agreement was made more urgent by the unfolding scandal over the deportation threats made against the Windrush generation of migrants.

They came to Britain legally from the Caribbean after the Second World War, but many have been threatened with deportation after a recent tightening of immigration rules.

The issue was raised by Mr Verhofstadt in a debate on Brexit negotiations in the European Parliament today.

He said: “Even with the Withdrawal Agreement now, things are not over.

“We need still to have citizens’ rights completed because, certainly after the Windrush scandal in Britain, we want to be sure the same is not happening to our European citizens and that there is no bureaucratic nightmare there.”

The European Parliament’s Brexit steering group is holding a special session with officials from the Home Office in Brussels next week.

British government officials will give a presentation on the new online application system which has been developed for EU citizens to apply for “settled status.”

They will hope that will end uncertainty over the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.

But Mr Verhofstadt said he will insist on changes to “avoid real problems for EU citizens” if they’re needed.

When the Windrush story broke, he said: “This will be deeply worrying for millions of EU citizens in the UK who will now fear similar treatment after Brexit.”

The development comes after UK Immigration minister Caroline Noakes this week met representatives of The3million group which represents EU citizens living in the UK.

The group’s co-founder, Nicolas Hatton, expressed fears that, like in the case of the Windrush generation, elderly people without digital records could face deportation.