European Parliament

Brexit app for EU nationals does not work on iPhones

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Fresh embarrassment for Home Office follows revelations about scandalous treatment of members of ‘Windrush generation’ families who helped rebuild Britain after the war.

The Home Office is being subjected to ridicule after its officials admitted that the current iteration of its app designed for registering EU citizens’ residency applications post-Brexit does not work properly on iPhones – the type of device with a 52 per cent market share in the UK.

The embarrassing admission came at a meeting in Brussels to discuss EU citizens’ rights in the UK post-Brexit. It will prove awkward for Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who had previously suggested that registering online via the app would be “as easy as setting up an online account at LK Bennett [a luxury fashion brand]”.

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder called yesterday’s admission regarding technical glitches with the app “just incredible” and “beyond belief”. She said Home Office officials had suggested any EU citizens who found that they were unable to use the app because they had iPhones could borrow an Android device from a friend.

According to The Guardian, MEPs were late for the meeting because of problems with the Eurostar train service. As of this morning a video of the meeting was unavailable on the European Parliament’s website, and site’s multimedia player was having trouble loading EU Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt’s statement about the iPhones issue.

In a written statement to the press, Verhofstadt said MEPs had “raised a number of concerns and asked many questions about the proposed online app which is being developed by UK authorities, as well as the procedure more generally.”

The European Parliament's Brexit Steering Group is to write to Amber Rudd stipulating its recommendations for making the app fit for purpose. The Home Office has said it is already in conversations with Apple in an attempt to resolve the issue.

The row comes at a highly sensitive moment for the Home Office, which is being derided after days of negative headlines over the scandal concerning threatened deportations of people from ‘Windrush generation’ families – Caribbean nationals who arrived in Britain immediately after the Second World War to help rebuild the bomb-blitzed country.

Cases, including those of a man who arrived as a boy from Jamaica in 1964 and was warned that he faced removal from the UK despite having official paperwork dating back decades, have prompted public outrage and harmed relations between the UK and its Commonwealth counterparts.

Rudd this week announced an emergency package of measures designed to fast-track applications for UK citizenship for people who arrived from the Commonwealth post-war. She is due to face a grilling about the fiasco from MPs today.

In his statement about the three million EU nationals currently living in the UK, Verhofstadt referred to the Windrush scandal, saying: “It remains a priority for the European Parliament to ensure that citizens, whether UK citizens in the EU or EU citizens in the UK, can continue to lead their lives as they do now, which was also the promise made by those campaigning for Brexit.  

“The treatment of the Windrush generation under UK immigration law has unfortunately created renewed anxiety among EU citizens in the UK and shows why we have to get this right.”

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