The Government’s Unlawful Interpretation of the Brexit Agreement

The Home Office has confirmed that it will not appeal the High Court’s ruling that the government’s interpretation of the UK Withdrawal Agreement is illegal.  The government will now have to propose and implement changes to comply with the ruling.

The current EU Settlement Scheme requires EU citizens to register under that scheme in order to continue to live legally in the UK. Those who have been granted pre-settled status (a 5-year residence permit) must submit a second application before their status expires in order to extend their stay in the UK, or, if they have already completed 5 years of continuous residence, apply for indefinite leave to remain. Under the government’s current interpretation, if people fail to file a second application on time, they lose their right to reside in the UK and thus become illegal residents.

A person who is not legally resident in the UK is subject to the “hostile environment” and loses the right to work, study and rent accommodation, in addition to losing access to free NHS medical care, accessing public funds, etc. Often, those who forget to apply on time are vulnerable people and therefore the government’s interpretation affects precisely those who they should be helping the most.

Fortunately, the High Court ruled that the interpretation of the EU Settlement Scheme is illegal. The Court ruled that persons with pre-settled status will not lose their right to residence simply because they did not submit a second application on time, and that those who have been continuously residing in the UK for 5 years should not be denied indefinite leave to remain simply because they submitted their application late.

The High Court’s decision is a sigh of relief for the 2.2 million people with pre-settled status who were at risk of losing the right to reside in the UK by not making a second application on time. Now it is the government’s turn to propose and implement the relevant changes to comply with the High Court’s decision, and we will see that it does do so in accordance with the law.

This great achievement would not have been possible without the participation of the organization the3million  who have worked tirelessly to protect the rights of Europeans in the UK post-Brexit.

Manuel Padilla Behar is a solicitor specialised in immigration law and is the owner of MPB Solicitors. You can contact him here.

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