Telegraph & Express invent migrant deportation scare story

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 16.05.2016

The Express and the Telegraph say the Home Office is threatening to deport three million EU citizens after a Brexit.  The Express labelled this threat “project fear”, while The Telegraph quoted several Leave campaigners to the same effect. The papers should have labelled it ‘project fiction’, as the Home Office threatened no such thing.

Asked whether the government would give EU citizens currently in the UK an automatic entitlement to remain after a Brexit, the Home Office spokesman in the Lords didn’t actually give a direct answer. In response to a parliamentary written question, Lord Keen referred to British citizens in the EU, saying:

“UK citizens get the right to live and work in the other 27 member states from our membership of the EU. If the UK voted to leave the EU, the government would do all it could to secure a positive outcome for the country, but there would be no requirement under EU law for these rights to be maintained”.

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    From this answer, The Express produced the headline “PROJECT FEAR: ‘Three million EU citizens in Britain to be KICKED OUT if UK votes Brexit”.  The Telegraph’s headline was: “Three million EU citizens in the UK could be deported if Britons vote for a ‘Brexit’, Home Office suggests”. Its introductory paragraph said the claim “was denounced as ‘absurd’ by anti-EU campaigners.”

    Such a claim would, indeed, have been absurd if it had been made. While it is not entirely clear what would happen to EU citizens in the UK, no government figure has suggested that all 3 million should be kicked out. What is absurd are the newspapers’ stories.

    The Telegraph and the Express did not respond to requests for comment

    Edited by Hugo Dixon