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All Devon's Tory MPs vote to block physical proof for county's 26,700 EU citizens

October 20, 2020 2:35 PM
Originally published by Devon Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrats leading the Stop Brexit march in October 2019The Liberal Democrats have warned that Devon's Conservative MPs are risking a "new Windrush-style scandal", after every one of them voted to refuse to offer EU citizens physical proof of their right to stay in the UK.

On Monday 19th October Tory MPs from across Devon, Torbay and Plymouth overturned a Liberal Democrat amendment to the Immigration Bill, which passed in the House of Lords just weeks ago. The amendment would require the Home Office to give EU Citizens physical proof of Settled and Pre-Settled Status, rather than the digital-only system the Home Office is currently pursuing.

Conservatives in the House of Commons rejected the amendment by 331 votes to 260. All of our county's MPs voted to scrap the amendment, while Liberal Democrat MPs and MPs in all other parties voted to retain it.

Exeter's Ben Bradshaw and Plymouth Sutton & Devonport's Luke Pollard both voted to retain the amendment.

Caroline Voaden, former Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West, said: "By refusing to provide EU citizens with physical proof of their rights and forcing them to rely on a digital code and an online Home Office database, our Devon MPs are putting them at risk of discrimination. Not one of our Conservative MPs voted to retain this amendment which would have given our EU citizens reassuring and physical proof of their status.

"EU citizens in Devon - and across the UK - are our families and friends, our colleagues and carers. They have been living under a cloud of uncertainty for far too long."

The latest Home Office figures show that, as of the end of June,26,700 people in Devon have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme for the right to stay in the UK after the Brexit transition period ends. Of those, 16,170 have been granted Settled Status so far, while a further 8,780 have been granted temporary Pre-Settled Status.

Following the vote, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

"The Conservatives' decision to overturn this Liberal Democrat amendment shows how empty their promises to guarantee citizens' rights after Brexit really are. Their Hostile Environment is, sadly, alive and well.

"The Windrush Scandal showed the devastating impact of the Hostile Environment on people who cannot easily prove their rights. By denying EU citizens physical proof of Settled Status, the Government risks making them the victims of a new Windrush-style Scandal."

Voaden added: "Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, with physical proof of their status."

The amendment (Amendment 5) was originally tabled by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oates and passed by the House of Lords earlier this month.