The Welsh Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for their “hapless treatment” of EU citizens after the Home Office released guidance on the new EU Settlement Scheme.
The Home Office has confirmed that for the duration of the trial period, until 30 March, EU citizens applying to stay in the UK must either use an Android phone or travel to one of 13 ‘document scanning’ centres instead.
For Holyhead, the closest ‘document scanning’ centre is Trafford. According to analysis by the Welsh Liberal Democrats, EU citizens travelling from Holyhead, would face costs of £55 on the train for at least a six and a half hour round trip. The drive would be a 224 mile round trip costing around £56 in fuel.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Cllr Aled Morris Jones commented:
It’s unacceptable EU citizens from Holyhead will have to undertake a 224 mile round trip to the nearest document scanning centre. EU citizens in Anglesey should not pay the price for the UK Government’s incompetence.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:
Too many people in Wales are deeply anxious about their right to stay. Many of them fill vital roles in the health service, our schools and the tourism sector. They want to register as soon as possible, but Theresa May’s hapless treatment of EU citizens could result in a new Windrush scandal.
For anyone who doesn’t have an android phone, this botched scheme means they will have to travel. For people in in Holyhead that means facing a 224 mile round trip and paying over £50 for the privilege. This postcode lottery is simply unacceptable.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP said:
Following significant pressure, the Prime Minister said there will be no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. How long did that commitment last?
It is Conservative Ministers who have made a mess of Brexit. They should either pay the cost for EU citizens or change the application system and ensure EU citizens are made to feel welcome in the UK.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid all of this mess is by giving the people the option to remain in the EU with a final say on Brexit.