- The app EU citizens living in Britain must use to apply for the right to stay does not work on iPhones.
- EU citizens told to “borrow someone else’s” by UK officials.
- Home Officials revealed the glitch to “astonished” MEPs in Brussels on Tuesday.
- Around half of UK adults use iPhones.
LONDON – The UK government’s mobile phone app for EU citizens wishing to remain in Britain after Brexit does not work on iPhones, Home Office officials have admitted.
Officials at Amber Rudd’s department told MEPs on Tuesday that a key function of the app would not work on iPhones. Around half of the country’s population are believed to use iPhones.
Home Office officials suggested that EU citizens without iPhones could “borrow someone else’s,” the Guardian reports. “It is beyond belief,” Liberal MEP Catherine Bearder, who attended the meeting in Brussels, told reporters.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has insisted that the”extensively tested” app will be as simple to use for the 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK as setting up an account with clothes retailer, LK Bennett.
EU citizens who have used the app have said it asks for a small amount of personal information, including passport details, an email address and home address. However, the glitch meaning it cannot be used on iPhones has renewed feeling among many people that the Home Office does not have the technological ability to deal with Brexit.
A source who attended the meeting said that some MEPs were “astonished” after being told the app wouldn’t work on iPhones and came close to “heated exchanges” with the UK officials.
Verhofstadt – who chairs the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group – is preparing to send a letter to Theresa May and Home Secretary Rudd, which will outline his concerns about the Home Office’s handling of EU citizens.
The letter will be signed by numerous influential MEPs sent to Downing Street later this week, BI understands.
“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,” Verhofstadt said.
“The European Parliament will closely scrutinise developments and work to ensure sufficient guarantees are in place to avoid the repetition of such a situation for EU citizens.”
A Home Office spokesperson told BI that the app was only one part of the process and other means of applying will be available to EU citizens.
“We are developing from scratch a new digital, streamlined, user-friendly scheme for EU citizens to safeguard their right to stay in the UK after we leave the EU,” they said in a statement.
“Technology will play an important role in making applications simple but this is only part of the process for those who choose to use it and there will be alternative non-digital routes available to all applicants to prove their identity.
“Our voluntary settled status scheme will be opening later this year and we continue to closely engage with technology companies, as well as other stakeholders about its design.”
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