MORE than 100 EU citizens living in Britain have mistakenly been sent deportation letters, government ministers confirmed yesterday.
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas accused ministers of treating EU citizens in Britain “with contempt” and as “second-class citizens.”
Urging the Tories to “get a grip,” she said the shocking error came at a time when EU citizens living in Britain were already worried about their fate.
Despite repeated calls from the Labour Party to guarantee EU citizens the right to remain, Theresa May’s administration has sought to use them as a bargaining chip in its stuttering negotiations with Brussels on exit terms.
Home Office Minister Brandon Lewis blamed the bureaucratic shambles on a misunderstanding which he said stemmed from an “incorrect interpretation” of an application for a registration certificate from a citizen of the European Economic Area (EEA).
The EEA comprises the countries of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Non-EU EEA citizens have similar rights as EU citizens to freedom of travel and other entitlements.
Mr Lewis said the victims of the error had all received an apology.
But Ms Lucas said: “Mistakes like this are simply not acceptable.
“These are people who are our neighbours and friends and family, yet the government is treating them with contempt as second-class citizens.
“The government is turning lives upside down by callously playing hardball over Brexit and creating a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants.
“Ministers need to get a grip and make sure that an error like this never happens again.”
Ms Lucas asked the government how many EU nationals living in Britain had been “incorrectly sent notifications after June 26 2017 that they would be deported,” and what it estimated the cost to the public purse would be of reimbursing expenses incurred by people in response to the letters.
Mr Lewis replied that “106 letters were sent in error between 11 and 16 August 2017. I wrote, personally, to all those affected to apologise.
“We have agreed to meet any reasonable associated costs incurred as a result of this error. We should be able to quantify the total cost in due course.”