Senior EU politician Guy Verhofstadt has attacked leaked plans to end freedom of movement for EU citizens on day one of a no-deal Brexit.
Verhofstadt, who leads to EU’s influential Brexit steering committee, took to Twitter to describe a no-deal Brexit as “catastrophic”, adding that EU citizens in the UK “deserve more certainty [and] advance information”.
He added that the leaked Home Office plans were “another reason why a disorderly Brexit would be reckless & shouldn’t be normalised”.
Verhofstadt was responding to news that new Home Secretary Priti Patel is pressing for border restrictions to be imposed immediately on 31st October, in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This is despite a new replacement border system not yet being ready.
Ministers had previously intended to delay scrapping free movement until a new set of rules are in place, with a bill on the issue currently stuck in the Commons. The government has so far declined to bring forward the stalled bill which would end free movement under a more drawn out timetable.
Campaign group the3million described Patel’s plans as “switching on the hostile environment for anyone who cannot prove the right to stay in the UK”, adding:
“This is reckless [and] opens the door to widespread discrimination.”
Former Labour MP and New Europeans CEO Roger Casale described the move as “aggressive and abrupt”, adding: “Without a physical proof of their status EU citizens in the UK and Britons abroad may face discrimination due to a misperception about their residency rights.”
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for home affairs Ed Davey said: ““Are the government seriously suggesting an NHS nurse who is an EU national may not be allowed to return to the country if they happen to have been on holiday? It is absurd.”