Tory ministers face a backlash after it emerged rough sleepers from the EU face being deported after Brexit.
The “immoral” policy emerged in the small print of plans to bar foreign criminals from entering the UK when EU rules end on January 1.
The Home Office will today present plans to Parliament confirming those sentenced to more than a year in jail will not be allowed into the UK.
However, it has emerged some people could be removed by the Home Office without such a criminal record.
It is understood rough sleepers from the EU would be deported as a last resort if people have refused help such as offers of accommodation or welfare.
Officials are said to maintain this is already the case for non-EU nationals found living on the streets.
And it’s understood Home Office mandarins believe it would not be a regular occurrence, and only used as a last resort if other “carrots” have been refused.
But Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told The Guardian: “Deporting people for being homeless is immoral.
“These plans would be appalling at any moment, but what makes it even worse is putting this forward as we face the deepest recession in generations and in the middle of a global pandemic.
“It’s completely unacceptable and tells you all you need to know about this morally bankrupt Tory government.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, added: “If true, this appears to be a huge step backwards from a government that says it wants to end rough sleeping.
“Seeking to deport people for the sole reason that they are homeless will undoubtedly mean fewer people coming forward for help.
“Rough sleepers, no matter where they are from, are a symptom of a home-grown housing emergency.
“This emergency has been caused by the failure of successive governments to build the social homes we need. Investment in social housing will solve this emergency – not punishing people for being homeless.”
People who display anti-social behaviour such as aggressive begging could also be asked to leave the country.
But those who are vulnerable because of being a victim of trafficking or modern slavery would be helped to regularise their status or get out of the situation they are in.
New rules will come into force on January 1 as part of the Government’s post Brexit immigration package.
Changes made by statutory instrument apply the same rules to EU citizens as non-EU citizens after Brexit.
Foreign criminals can enter the UK in certain circumstances currently but new legislation laid in Parliament on Thursday bans who have been sentenced to more than a year in prison.
New grounds for refusal also include sham marriages, or breaching customs regulations by carrying prohibited goods or restricted goods without a licence.
In all these circumstances, there are some exemptions and claims will be considered as part of the UK’s international human rights obligations.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “For too long, EU rules have forced us to allow dangerous foreign criminals, who abuse our values and threaten our way of life, onto our streets.
“The UK will be safer thanks to firmer and fairer border controls where foreign criminals regardless of nationality will be subject to the same criminality rules.”
But Mr Thomas-Symonds said: “Nobody wants to see dangerous criminals entering the UK. However, just this week we learned the Government has not yet managed to agree a deal with the EU that would allow us to maintain access to the European Arrest Warrant and vital information-sharing systems such as Europol.
“So, when it comes to those entering the UK, come January, we will have no way of knowing who has a criminal record or which offences they may have committed.
“This announcement is another act of incompetence and fantasy from the Tories.”