The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for their "hapless treatment" of EU citizens after the Home Office released guidance on the new EU Settlement Scheme.
The Home Office has confirmed that for the duration of the trial period, until 30 March, EU citizens applying to stay in the UK must either use an Android phone or travel to one of 13 'document scanning' centres instead.
For Norwich, the closest 'document scanning' centre is Hatfield. According to analysis by the Liberal Democrats, EU citizens travelling from Norwich would face costs of £64.70 on the train for a 5 hour round trip. The drive would be a 214-mile round trip costing around £53.50 in fuel.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Norwich, Cllr James Wright said:
"Too many people in Norwich are deeply anxious about their right to stay. Many of them fill vital roles in the health service, our schools and the tourism sector. They want to register as soon as possible, but Theresa May's hapless treatment of EU citizens could result in a new Windrush scandal.
"For anyone who doesn't have an Android phone, this botched scheme means they will have to travel. For people in Norwich, that means facing a 214-mile round trip, wasted hours and unnecessary cost. This postcode lottery is simply unacceptable."
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP said:
"Following significant pressure, the Prime Minister said there will be no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. How long did that commitment last?
"It is Conservative Ministers who have made a mess of Brexit. They should either pay the cost for EU citizens or change the application system and ensure EU citizens are made to feel welcome in the UK.
"Ultimately, the best way to avoid all of this mess is by giving the people the option to remain in the EU with a final say on Brexit."
Notes to Editors
The scheme is designed to ensure more than 3 million EU citizens who live in the UK can stay after Brexit. EU citizens who have been in the UK for five years or more by 31 December 2020 must apply for the "settled status" by 30 June 2021. The guidance can be found here.
Following pressure from Liberal Democrats and others, the Prime Minister informed the House of Commons on 21 January that "there [will be] no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay." A copy of the Hansard record can be found here.
The price of an 'anytime return' train ticket from Norwich to Hatfield was £64.70 from National Rail. Cost of fuel for the 214-mile return trip from Norwich to Hatfield is worked out at 25p per mile, as shown on Gov.uk.
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