European parliament could block Brexit deal over Boris Johnson’s treatment of EU citizens, Guy Verhofstadt says

Problems with Home Office settlement scheme have raised concerns

By Jon Stone
Dec. 18, 2019

The European parliament could block Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal over the UK’s treatment of EU citizens, its Brexit coordinator has said.

Guy Verhofstadt called for the “remaining problems” with citizens’ rights to be solved before consent could be given by the parliament, which is yet to vote on the agreement.

MEPs are worried that problems with the UK’s settlement scheme for EU nationals could cause problems and leave some citizens with no immigration status.

“Everyone presumes the European parliament will give automatically its consent to the withdrawal agreement. Not if the remaining problems with the citizens’ rights are not solved first,” Mr Verhofstadt said on Wednesday. “Citizens can never become the victims of Brexit.”

Ultimately, Mr Verhofstadt does not control the votes of MEPs in the parliament – so his warning could ring hollow if group and party leaders decide they would rather swing behind the plan.

But his comments illustrate concerns in Brussels and other EU capitals that there could be another Windrush scandal waiting for their citizens who have made their home in the UK.