• Caroline Nokes, interviewed by the Home Affairs Select Committee, said employers will have to check their staff’s papers if no-deal.
• Home Office later contradicted the minister, after the3million campaign.
• Home Secretary Sajid Javid also rebuked her live on TV.
Last Tuesday, the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Yvette Cooper MP was interviewing immigration minister Caroline Nokes about EU citizens and no-deal Brexit (watch the video here).
The minister revealed that employers will be required to check whether EU citizens working for them have the right to work in the UK, in case of ‘no deal’, from April next year:
It is, of course, unworkable: a no-deal Brexit means our current EU rights would be stripped on 29 March 2019, and we would be required to apply for settled status, alongside our 3.6 million fellow EU citizens, to retain our right to work.
If the Government asked employers to do the checks on day 1 of Brexit, the system would grind to a halt from millions applying at the same time. The Government itself has estimated it would take about 2 years to process all the applications.
The campaign grew, and the3million wrote to the Immigration minister to clarify her comments. The reply came a few hours later in an email, which contradicted the minister.
The Home Office confirmed current checks “will not change next March in the event we leave the EU without a deal” and that “EU citizens will continue to be able to evidence their right to work by showing a passport or national identity card.”
In the real world, we run the risk of a widespread discrimination against us: “Which employer is going to hire an EU citizen with all this uncertainty hanging over our heads? Which landlord will extend tenancies or issue new ones?” asked Tanja Bueltmann in her article for the Huffington Post the following morning.
Then the Home Secretary Sajid Javid entered the debate on Peston on ITV to rebuke his immigration minister, saying in case of ‘no deal’, there would be a “reasonable transition period” because “we’ve just got to be practical”, while the3million was invited on BBC News to comment on the story.
To conclude, the BBC reported yesterday the Home Office issued a statement to business confirming the climb down:
I want to say thank you for everyone who raised the issue on social media, liked our posts or retweeted our tweets. This was people power in action and it made a whole difference to our future in case of ‘no deal’ Brexit.🔷
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(This piece was originally published on the3million newsletter.)