LAST week the EU Withdrawal Act went through parliament without much of a stushie. Most of the proposals of the Tory government were voted through; amendments from the opposition to protect vulnerable child migrants and EU citizens were voted down with ease.

After the 2016 referendum on Brexit, EU citizens were promised that nothing would change. “There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK,” Boris Johnson wrote at the time. “These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.”

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That was a clear promise. It was broken very quickly – instead of a registration system for all EU citizens, the government put in place an application system which is flawed, as my experience with it (and the experiences of many others) proves.

The deadline for application is in June 2021. It may seem there is plenty of time for EU citizens to apply, but as with Windrush there could be any number of people who don’t realise they have to, such as older people who have lived here all their lives, and children who were born in Britain but have a parent born abroad. Many are offered “pre-settled status” despite the fact they have been living and working in the UK for more than five years. These people will have to re-apply but there is no guarantee they will be accepted. And which employer will take on people with pre-settled status?

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Boris Johnson makes promises at the drop of a hat, turns around and breaks his promises just as easily. That is why many EU citizens with or without settled status feel deeply uneasy – as does the EU. And with reason. There is to be an Independent Monitoring Authority for Citizens’ Rights Agreement but so far there is no information on how that will work or who will be on it. In section 39 of the Withdrawal Agreement there is a passage stating that this body can be abolished at any time and tacked on to a ministerial department. So much for an independent system!

Much of the anxiety of EU citizens comes from the fact that the rights we have now are not enshrined in law. The right to appeal, the right to a judicial review are enshrined in secondary legislation and ministerial assurances, and these can very easily be changed. The promises Boris Johnson has made to EU citizens are not worth the paper they are printed on.

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Despite having been granted settled status I worry that this right-wing government will make it more difficult for EU citizens to find work, to access healthcare, benefits and housing – all these things are already happening. When I applied to stay in my home of 21 years the Home Office said they could not find enough evidence that I had been living in Scotland for more than five years. I have settled status but no physical proof – what happens when I stand at the border after a holiday and they can’t find evidence of my settled status?

What happens in 11 months’ time if or when the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal? It is a real possibility, and then we are at the mercy of the Tory government. The stuff of nightmares. Independence is the only answer!

Trudy Duffy-Wigman
Crook of Devon

I READ with interest your fact check column (Ian Murray’s EU claim exposed, January 10). This is exactly what is needed for everyone to keep a clear eye on what is true and what is bluff or outright lies. Thank you.

Pat Laing

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I THINK The National’s new rebuttal service is excellent and I’m looking forward to more of the same. WELL DONE! This will help us all as readers to have the true facts if needed for discussions with undecided/No people.

Anne Smart