Three: The Brexit Prototype

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Richard Bertinet is a chef who has lived in the UK since 1988.1 He runs a well-known and popular cookery school in Bath and has penned several award-winning recipe books. A significant portion of the UK’s population is made up of people like Richard – people who migrated from EU Member States and made the UK their home. There is still no exact, official count of how many EU citizens are resident in the UK by virtue of free movement rights, but we now know it to be more than four million.2 That group is embedded within communities across all walks of life. Some have been in the UK for decades, while others arrived more recently. Following the leave vote at the June 2016 Brexit referendum, the status of this group quickly became uncertain. Quite apart from negotiating the rules that would apply, there was the immense challenge of how the new rules would be administered fairly and effectively at the speed required by the Brexit process. In response to this challenge, the Home Office adopted a novel process, known as the EU Settlement Scheme, which included a combination of online applications, partially automated decision making, and cross-departmental data-sharing arrangements. For people like Richard, it was, in the words of then Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP, meant to be ‘as easy as setting up an online account at LK Bennett’.3 Many applications were processed quickly and successfully.

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