Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
28 February 2017

Brexit will lead to unfair deportations of EU citizens, academic warns

Irene Clennell moved to the UK in 1988, but was deported to Singapore in 2017. EU citizens may be next. 

By Julia Rampen

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.”

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Despite the inevitable embarrassing stories, Menon said he did not think press coverage would damage the government: “Public opinion seems pretty set.”

Content from our partners
Railways must adapt to how we live now
“I learn something new on every trip"
How data can help revive our high streets in the age of online shopping

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.”