Stevie Leishman [Image: Stevie Leishman (from his Facebook page)].

Stevie Leishman is a UK citizen of mature years (as you can see from the photo above) and has been a resident of Scotland for his entire life – apart from seven weeks spent backpacking abroad, earlier this year.

He was therefore surprised and shocked when, after applying for Universal Credit, he received the following letter from the Department for Work and Pensions:

It says: “We are writing to tell you that you have not passed the right to reside and habitual residence test.

“Although, as a British citizen, you have the right of abode in the United Kingdom (UK), you claimed Universal Credit shortly after you re-entered the country, which is not an appreciable period of time. You have, therefore not demonstrated that you are habitually resident in the UK.

This means that you are a person who must be treated as not in Great Britain. Therefore, you do not have any entitlement to Universal Credit at this time.

“If your circumstances change, you can make a new claim to Universal Credit.”

What does this pen-pusher mean by “you are a person who must be treated as not in Great Britain”? Where the blazes is he, then?

And if he’s not in Great Britain, may Scottish Nationalists use this as a justification for claiming that the UK government has ended Scotland’s membership of the United Kingdom?

What a thing that would be!

On his Facebook page, Mr Leishman wrote: “Scottish lad goes backpacking for 7 weeks and then returns to the UK the government treat him as a foreign national. Ineligible for any benefits a refugee in his own country.”

This comment from Mark Andrews on the Supporting Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell FB page is also worth seeing: “British lad goes backpacking abroad, comes home to the UK and is told that he is essentially a stateless person with no rights. Seriously WTF?

“Is this part of Theresa May’s hostile environment again for illegal immigrants? Only in this case the Scottish young man concerned is born and bred British!

“Has the prime minister and the Conservative Part ‘government’ gone stark raving mad? What … planet are they on?”

It is clearly part of the “hostile environment” policy, even though it isn’t being administrated by the Home Office.

Other examples quoted in the comment thread under Mr Andrews’s post include a homeless person who was excluded for spending four months abroad picking fruit – after 16 years in the British Army, and a woman who left her abusive husband in Dubai and fled to the UK.

It seems if anyone has been out of the UK for two consecutive weeks in two years, they may be defined as a foreigner and denied benefit.

If anything, this is worse than the Windrush scandal.

That travesty concerned people who were born abroad but had the right to stay in the UK.

This targets people who have always been UK citizens.

And Theresa May is at the heart of it. How many times do we have to hear these accounts before she – and her government – are removed?

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