The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for their “unfair 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 Cheltenham, the closest 'document scanning' centre is Bath. According to analysis by the Liberal Democrats, EU citizens travelling from Cheltenham would face costs of more than £15 on the train for a two-hour round trip. The drive would be a 110-mile round trip costing around £27.50 in fuel.
Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Cheltenham Max Wilkinson said:
“Cheltenham has a large and valued community of EU citizens and they are deeply anxious about their right to stay. Many of them fill vital roles in the public services like the NHS and schools as well as plenty of other jobs that keep our town going. They want to register as soon as possible, but Theresa May’s unfair 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 take a full day off work and fork our hard earned cash just to apply to stay where they currently live. 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.”