EU citizens in the UK will find themselves unfairly deported after Brexit whatever the arrangements, a European politics specialist has warned.
According to Anand Menon, a professor of European politics at Kings College London, inflexible bureaucratic rules could catch out EU citizens who have moved back and forth from the UK, or have similarly unusual circumstances.
He was speaking after Irene Clennell, based in Durham since 1988, was deported to Singapore because the Home Office judged her time spent outside the UK caring for her parents invalidated her right to remain.
Menon said: “Bureaucratic rules don’t take into account the specific circumstances of the individuals. Any possible model for EU citizens in this country will involve unfairness.
“I am sure there will be ladies like Irene Clennell. The Daily Mail will be full of stories about terrorists who are allowed to stay and The Guardian will be full of the pregnant lady who has to leave.”
Despite the inevitable embarrassing stories, Menon said he did not think press coverage would damage the government: “Public opinion seems pretty set.”
Civil servants were already looking into the different visas and work permit options available, he said: “There is an awful lot of thought being put into this in the Home Office.”
The House of Lords is expected to vote for an amendment to the Article 50 bill protecting EU citizens on Wednesday, which would in turn force MPs to reconsider the issue.
However, even if the government offers right to remain for EU citizens in the UK, there could be complications, according to Menon: “If we say on March 15th that anyone here can stay, what about the guy who has popped out of the UK to visit his dying aunty?”
Migrants’ Rights Network director Fizza Qureshi said that while there was a lack of clarity on EU citizens’ rights, there were worrying precedents.
She said: “From the way standard immigration rules are applied, even when people meet the minimum income threshold [of £18,600 a year], applications are still being rejected on technical grounds.”