A senior minister has urged Europeans concerned about how to prove their rights in the UK after Brexit to print off emails which state “this letter is not proof of your status”.
Steve Barclay was accused of “confusing” EU citizens as MPs rejected a Lords amendment which would have ensured they have physical proof of their “settled status” after the UK leaves the bloc.
The Brexit secretary heard that after the Windrush scandal, European citizens do not trust the Home Office not to lose, delete or change their digital records and that they also want physical proof of their status.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA), the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and EU nationals group the3million have also issued a joint call on the government to issue physical cards to European citizens.
But Barclay insisted the digitally recorded “settled status” currently being offered by the government was more secure than a physical document.
“All successful applicants receive a confirmation letter and can download secure share codes which can be printed or sent to anybody an EU citizen might need to show their status to in the future,” he told MPs.
“So the key is that the number that is there, the digital status, is the most secure but of course people can print off the email that they receive.”
SNP Brexit spokesperson Philippa Whitford said physical proof was “really important” for EU citizens to prove their status to landlords and employers because the “internet is not always accessible”.
She went on: “The secretary of state said they can download the email that explains their status.”
“It explicitly says this email is not proof of status. It does not provide status even if you print it.
“And I’m sorry, after Windrush EEA citizens and indeed others don’t trust the Home Office not to lose, delete or change their records.”
EU nationals criticised Barclay online.
Dear @SteveBarclay et al,— Alexandra Bulat #UnskilledEUMigrant (@alexandrabulat) January 22, 2020
Please stop mentioning printing the letter. You will confuse people who will then show up to prove their right to work or rent with a printed copy which states "this is not proof of your status". Neither is the PDF that the applicant can print online. https://t.co/8yhrC0D4Qa pic.twitter.com/6LKxw0VKGh
So if we do not have a physical document and we cannot 'print' our status, we'll need to have our phone and data available to download our credentials every-time we are at the boarder? What about people who have broken their phones or have a dead battery? https://t.co/FlDGlLnTbf— Anastasia Zawierucha (@AnastasiaZaw) January 22, 2020
Alexandra Bulat, a volunteer for the Settled charity which helps vulnerable EU nationals get status, said: “Dear Steve Barclay et al,
“Please stop mentioning printing the letter.
“You will confuse people who will then show up to prove their right to work or rent with a printed copy which states ‘this is not proof of your status’.
“Neither is the pdf that the applicant can print online.”
Anastasia Zawierucha, who has a French passport, said: “So if we do not have a physical document and we cannot ‘print’ our status, we’ll need to have our phone and data available to download our credentials every-time we are at the boarder? What about people who have broken their phones or have a dead battery?”
MPs voted to disagree with a Lords amendment to the withdrawal agreement bill, which was linked to giving EU citizens physical proof of their status, by 338 votes to 252 - majority 86.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.