The opinion piece written by Brandon Lewis in the Guardian last Friday is a PR exercise that misleads readers, the3million writes.


First published in September 2019.


On Friday, Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Security and Deputy Home Secretary for Brexit and No-Deal Preparation, published an inaccurate and misleading opinion piece on the EU citizens’ rights and the EU Settlement Scheme in the Guardian. Let’s have a look at his claims in detail.

“The [application] process can be completed in as little as 15 minutes”, the Minister claims.

This is misleading. He makes it sound like applying for Settled Status is a doddle. Evidence from NGOs and charities shows it is not for everyone.


"The Home Office’s message to EU citizens living here: we want you to stay", Brandon Lewis. / The Guardian

“You will still be able to work and access services and benefits as you do now.

Not quite accurate: EU citizens will enjoy the same rights to live, work, and healthcare, but pre-Settled Status does not count as “right to reside” for the purposes of welfare benefits.

EU citizens may be able to show their right to reside under EEA regulations by being a worker for example. However, it is still unclear whether these regulations will continue to apply following a no-deal.

"The Home Office’s message to EU citizens living here: we want you to stay", Brandon Lewis. / The Guardian

“It’s a digital status – so it can’t be lost or stolen.”

This claim by the Minister, in light of constant reports of data breaches, hacks and system outages is rather far fetched.

"The Home Office’s message to EU citizens living here: we want you to stay", Brandon Lewis. / The Guardian

“... granting of pre-settled status is not a refusal”, Brandon Lewis proclaims.

This is highly misleading and inaccurate. Granting any EU citizens Pre-Settled Status when they are entitled to Settled Status is refusing the status they should get.

"The Home Office’s message to EU citizens living here: we want you to stay", Brandon Lewis. / The Guardian

This is not mitigated by giving EU citizens the option to provide further evidence if they “feel” that they “are eligible for settled status”.

A legal status is not about what people “feel” they are entitled to, but what they ARE entitled to.

"The Home Office’s message to EU citizens living here: we want you to stay", Brandon Lewis. / The Guardian

“That’s why we’ve given £9m to 57 voluntary organisations across the country.”

Sounds generous of the Government but not in comparison to other major Government investments (e.g. for the digital switchover in 2009, the Government spent £200m on advertising alone).

"The Home Office’s message to EU citizens living here: we want you to stay", Brandon Lewis. / The Guardian

In summary, the opinion piece by Brandon Lewis in the Guardian is a PR exercise that misleads, ignores that people already have received the wrong status, and does not address the really concerning issue of what will happen to EU citizens failing to apply by the arbitrary deadline.

Misleading and inaccurate opinion pieces by the Home Office would be completely unnecessary if the Government implemented 3 simple things:

1) making Settled Status automatic by guaranteeing the rights of ALL EU citizens in law now;

2) providing physical documents after registration;

3) asking EU citzens during their registration when they arrived in the UK so the Home Office automatically works towards issuing the right document.🔷



Share this article now:





[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 07 September 2019, with the author’s consent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Megapixels.)



     

THE AUTHOR

Author image

the3million is the largest group of EU citizens in the UK, with a team of 50-ish active volunteers working on advocacy, policy, legal, media, social media, grassroots and events.