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Employers must check EU workers’ status under no-deal Brexit, says immigration minister

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Employers will have to check any EU workers living in Britain have a right to be in the country under “a no-deal” Brexit.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes made the announcement, telling firms they would be expected to carry out “adequately rigorous checks”.

She gave no further clarity on what the government would expect of business to ensure all workers are in the UK legitimately.

If there is no Brexit deal, EU citizens already living in the UK will be allowed to stay by applying for “settled status”.

The scheme had a trial opening and will extend to all EU citizens by March 2019, closing in June 2021.

Ms Nokes could not say how EU citizens who wait until the end of that period to apply could be differentiated by employers and admitted in some cases it could be “almost impossible”.

“We want as many people as possible to go through the settled status scheme as quickly and as efficiently as possible,” she told the Commons home affairs select committee on Tuesday.

“We want to make sure we don’t discriminate against them, which will indeed pose a challenge to government and indeed to employers in differentiating between those two groups of people.”

The committee’s chairwoman, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, called it a “system that in practice is unworkable because employers can’t implement it”.

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Around three million EU nationals live in the UK

SNP MP Stuart C. McDonald also claimed it would affect EU nationals who rented, saying landlords will not touch them “with a barge pole” unless they have been granted settled status.

Ms Nokes disagreed, saying she wanted “as many people as possible” to go through the scheme as quickly as possible.

She also revealed the application process still does not work on Apple phones.

And she said the prospect of British tourists ending up in “rest of the world queues” in EU countries’ airports was “not unrealistic”.

Around 650 EU citizens had applied by the beginning of October, the Guardian reported.

There are around three million people living in Britain who were born elsewhere in the EU.

Theresa May’s spokesperson defended Ms Nokes, saying she was “putting forward options that are going to be considered”.

“Many options are being looked at,” the spokesperson added.

Labour MP and select committee member Stephen Doughty told Sky News the admission showed the Home Office was “not fit for purpose to deal with its existing responsibilities”.

He accused the government of being “utterly unprepared” for Brexit and called for a referendum on the final divorce terms.

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