Thousands of EU citizens were refused entry at the UK border in the first three months of 2021

Thousands of EU citizens refused UK entry in three months since Brexit took effect, representing a major surge in cases despite a decline in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As many as 3,294 EU citizens were blocked from entering the UK in the first quarter of 2021, according to new data published by the British government.

The figure represents a major increase from the first quarter of last year, when fewer than 500 EU citizens were denied entry, despite travel rates being significantly higher.

Experts have linked it to Brexit taking effect on January 1. COVID travel restrictions could have also played a part, but they would also have been in place last year when the number of EU citizens turned away was much lower. 

End of free movement

While post-Brexit rules allow EU citizens to visit the UK without a visa, Marley Morris, an associate director at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), has said the surge in EU citizens being turned away from British borders was an early sign of the “impact of [the] end of free movement”.

“Most striking thing I’ve seen so far,” Morris said in a tweet

Speaking with Euronews, Morris said that with the end of free movement, EU citizens are facing deeper scrutiny at the UK border than they may have expected following Brexit.

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