EU citizens who fail to apply for the right to stay in Britain after Brexit will not be deported, according to The EU’s Brexit co-ordinator.
Earlier on Fridaym Guy Verhofstadt said he had been assured by the UK Government that people who fail to apply for settled status will be permitted to continue living in the UK if they can explain why they did not make an application.
But later in the day, the Home Office has rejected comments from the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator on EU citizens who remain in the UK, and warned against “misconceptions”.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today, Mr Verhofstadt said: “There will always be people who don't fulfil the procedures because they don't even know that they exist.
“There will be a grace period. What will happen for those people even after the grace period?
“There will be no automatic deportation.”
All EU nationals living in the UK are required to apply for settled status in order to continue living in the UK after June 2021.
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“If EU citizens have not registered by then without an adequate justification, the immigration rules will apply,” he said.
Downing Street also confirmed the position, which the Home Office had stated back in October when clarifying Mr Lewis’s comments.
“We’ve been clear that we want those who have made the UK their home to be able to stay, which is why we have provided certainty to millions of those citizens around the country,” a No 10 spokesman said.
During the interview, the Belgian MEP said that during conversations with Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay this week, the pair agreed that those European citizens who had been granted settled status in the UK after Brexit would be given the ability to print out their confirmation details as proof.
He said he agreed with Labour MEP Seb Dance, who argued that the UK was taking a “sabbatical” from the EU and would be back in the future.
"It will happen"— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) January 17, 2020
European Parliament Brexit coordinator @guyverhofstadt says he believes Britain will re-join the European Union one day#r4today | https://t.co/OwLb9UCQ4Y | @JustinOnWeb pic.twitter.com/24fL6kBiph
“I think that will happen, yes, it’s difficult to say when,” said Mr Verhofstadt.
“There will be a generation, the young generation coming in the coming decades, who will say later, ‘We want to go back’.
“It will happen. Maybe you will not see it in my life, but it will happen.”
Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan disagreed with the prediction – and said he would be willing to put it to the test in the years to come.
He said: “Maybe I’m wrong.
“I’m perfectly happy to have another referendum in a generation’s time and let people decide.”