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Guildford’s EU Citizens Should Have Automatic Right to Remain, Say Lib Dems

Published on: 1 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 3 Jun, 2021

By Martin Giles

Local Lib Dems are concerned that EU citizens in Guildford are stuck in a Home Office backlog as the government’s deadline looms.

With five weeks to go, new figures reveal that 490 living in Guildford were still waiting for the Home Office to process their applications at the end of March.

But Guildford’s Conservative MP, Angela Richardson, accused the Lib Dems of “ugly scaremongering”. She said: “It is unfortunate that the Lib Dems in Guildford are seeking to inflame tensions and exaggerate the issues with the EU Settlement Scheme.”

The latest Gov.UK statistics show that there had been 11,250 applications from people living in Guildford, with 10,760 of these concluded.

Nationally, the total number of applications received by the Home Office up to April 30  was 5,423,300 and the total number of applications concluded was 5,118,300 leaving 305,000 unresolved.

Liberal Democrats are calling for all EU citizens in the UK to be given the automatic right to stay.

The party is warning that those who aren’t given settled immigration status by June 30 could become the victims of a new “Windrush-style” scandal.

In a press release, the Lib Dems say: “The figures also reveal that 5,020 people in Guildford have only been granted temporary “Pre-settled Status”. That means a total of 5,510 Guildford applicants have still not been given the permanent right to stay.”

Zoe Franklin

Zöe Franklin, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Guildford constituency, said: “490 of our European friends and neighbours still don’t know what will happen to them at the end of June. They are being forced to cross their fingers and hope the Home Office get to their application in time.

“I’m also very concerned by the number of EU citizens who have not yet been granted a permanent right to stay.

“EU citizens who’ve made their lives in Guildford contribute enormously to our economy, our public services and our society. They shouldn’t be forced to live with this uncertainty and anxiety any longer.”

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael added: “Boris Johnson promised all EU citizens the automatic right to stay, but this enormous backlog and the growing number of refusals show that the Settled Status Scheme is anything but automatic.

“It’s not too late, but the government must act now to prevent a new Windrush-style scandal in just a few weeks.”

Angela Richardson speaking in the House of Commons in November.

Ms Richardson said that the 11,000 applicants in Guildford Borough and 5,500 in Waverley are given electronic proof of making their application.

She continued: “So there are not going to be deportations due to any delay in decisions and the Lib Dem claim that there might be is ugly scaremongering, seeking to frighten people for votes.

“The government has been clear that while June 30 is the deadline for applications, there are circumstances where applications beyond that may be accepted. And there remains, indefinitely, the option of late applications in certain situations.

“It is also important to remember that the scheme has been in place since 2019. So far, 5.3 million applications have been received with almost five million concluded and 97% of them accepted. Only 1% have been rejected and this is mostly for criminality or not being an EU citizen.

“People are encouraged to apply by June 30 if they wish to stay in the UK and are eligible and anyone affected by the scheme is welcome to contact me; there is a great deal of experience in my team dealing with these applications.

“I’m delighted to be able to say that my office has received messages of thanks after being able to assist.”

Brian Creese

But Brian Creese, chair of Guildford Labour Party was critical. He commented: “The treatment of EU Nationals wishing to remain in this country has been disgraceful. But with this dreadful Tory government, it is hard to know if that is because of incompetence or by design.

“In Westminster, I am delighted to report that the SNP, Green and Liberal Democrat MPs have joined Labour Party initiatives pushing the government for a resolution of this dreadful situation.

“We need a united front to pressurise the government into acting responsibly, and competently, towards our European friends and colleagues.”

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