Poor media coverage on EU citizens’ rights on the day the UK left the European Union may have serious consequences.


First published in February 2020.


With a few notable exceptions, I am very disappointed by the media coverage on EU citizens in the UK on Friday.

There were so many demonstrably untrue things said by guests about Settled Status and left completely unchallenged. This will have real impact on people.

I heard EU migrants say that Pre-Settled and Settled Status offer you the “exact same rights as before”.

Incorrect.

Take for instance Pre-Settled Status. It expires in 5 years. You need to re-apply before. You won’t have continous residence if absent for more than 6 months.

Neither does Settled Status. Settled Status lapses if you leave the UK for more than 5 years. Your current local election voting rights are still under bilateral negotiation.

“The same as before”?

Sadly some people won’t believe the reality until it affects them.

I heard EU citizens say how it is so easy to apply for Settled Status. One even said it took 4 minutes. And this was left without any context.

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Interviewing some socio-economically privileged people who do not think about others is not the full story. Many do not have it easy.

I heard EU citizens say how they simply “registered with the app”. The app is the ID check. Proving residency is step 2.

It is really important media do not give the impression it is just an app. I met people who only did the app part and wrongly thought their status was sorted...

This is a matter of public interest. If people are not informed on time and they do not apply on time, they become unlawfully resident. If people do not know what rights they have with each status, many will have issues in the future.

Most media should do much better. Words have consequences.

Boris Johnson saying in 2016 that EU citizens will “automatically” be granted status made some believe they do not have to do anything.

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Vote Leave campaign, 1 June 2016.

Some random EU citizen saying the “registration gives the ‘same rights’” will also misinform many people.

Stop it.

I do not comment on the Brexit impact on trade, for example, because this is not my area of expertise, and I simply don’t know. I comment on citizens’ rights because I know the detail.

Balancing my views with someone who conflates Settled Status with citizenship is not balance.🔷


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[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 2 February 2020, 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.]

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(Cover: Screenshot from the Estonian Foreign Ministry. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)