Brussels politician says Boris Johnson should 'pay for EU workers to stay' in UK

European Parliament coordinator for Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt.

European Parliament coordinator for Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt. - Credit: DPA/PA Images

A Brussels politician has recommended Boris Johnson "pay for EU workers to stay" in the UK in a direct swipe at the government's voluntary scheme to repatriate them.

Former Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said it was Britain's "loss" and the EU's "gain" after hearing about a scheme by the Home Office to pay EU nationals to voluntarily return to their country of origin.

As part of the scheme, the government ministry is offering EU citizens a flight back home and up to £2,000 of resettlement money, the Guardian revealed.

The scheme is designed to help some migrants in the UK to leave voluntarily but campaigners helping vulnerable EU nationals say it contradicts the government's claim that it was doing everything it could to help people register for settled status.

Responding, Verhofstadt tweeted: "Their loss is our gain! The sensible step would be to pay EU workers to stay, not leave.

"This UK government still does not understand the positive contribution EU citizens can make to Britain!".

Verhofstadt's comment received a mixed response online.

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"Deeply worrying when one of our EU friends has to make such a statement. Even more worrying though is the fact the UK government is actually incentivising people to leave. Given their track record, does anyone really believe they are doing this in the best interests of the UK?" @NearlyThere19 posted.

Cecilie Holter called it "nuts" as well as "short-sided and self-destructive".

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Bill Galer countered: "This is a generous scheme intended to help those few EU nationals who WANT to return home. About FOUR MILLION want to stay and work here, and ALL OF THEM are very welcome. The vast majority of Brits like Europeans, and welcome their contribution to our society."

Touching on the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) launched by the Home Office, @piablepebble wrote: "A lot of people can't afford to apply for EUSS, that is how they could have helped them financially and made applying a heck of a lot easier."

According to the latest figures, 4.9 million European citizens have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme ahead of the June 30 deadline.

More than 4.4 million applications have come from England, 243,600 from Scotland, 80,700 from Wales and 78,500 from Northern Ireland.

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