Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 May 2019

Brexit: Meet the 96-year-old woman who has to register to remain in the UK

Housebound Marguerite Skerret is one of 3.7 million EU citizens having to apply for settled status

French national Marguerite Skerret has lived in the UK for 68 years. Sharon O'Dea/ Twitter
French national Marguerite Skerret has lived in the UK for 68 years. Sharon O'Dea/ Twitter

French national Marguerite Skerret arrived in London 68 years ago, long before the UK’s accession to the European Economic Community in 1973.

But now at age 96, she has been advised she will have to register for settled status if she wants to remain in the UK.

Ms Skerret, who worked as a translator for decades before retiring, could not apply for dual nationality when she arrived in the UK because France did not support it at the time.

She only became aware that she would have to register when she received a letter from Westminster council inviting her to a meeting to learn more about her status in the UK.

Housebound and living in sheltered accommodation, she was unable to make the meeting.

Ms Skerret’s granddaughter Sharon O’Dea told The National that while the application process appeared straightforward, for many older people it would pose a challenge.

“In my grandmother’s case, she does not have a valid passport because she doesn’t go anywhere. She’s not able to travel. Lots of older people let their passports expire in later years,” she said.

“A lot of the battle for us is to get biometric ID, something she has never needed before.”

Marguerite Skerret on a trip to Paris in 1953. Sharon O'Dea/ Flickr
Marguerite Skerret on a trip to Paris in 1953. Sharon O'Dea/ Flickr

Ms O’Dea said she would have to take her grandmother to the French embassy in South Kensington so she can have her fingerprints scanned.

“It might not seem like a big deal but for someone that is housebound, it is. At least we already live in London but I can imagine for a person in a similar situation elsewhere in the country, it would be impossible.”

She is worried many older EU citizens will the suffer the same fate as the Windrush generation and have trouble accessing key services such as NHS treatment. “The team behind the application has done their best to make it as easy as possible but simply having to apply to remain in your own home is inhumane. I think they should think of ways to exclude elderly people from it.”

Updated: January 30, 2019 06:05 PM

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