Only Fools’ Mickey in fight to lift ban on his Thai fam­ily

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ended Patrick has acted oc­ca­sion­ally – work­ing in­stead as a poker pro­fes­sional, builder and hos­pi­tal re­cep­tion­ist.

He now does night shifts driv­ing ex­ec­u­tive cabs to raise the cash needed for his fam­ily’s visa ap­pli­ca­tion.

“I’m a Skype dad,” said Patrick, of Gravesend, Kent. “I talk to Josie and Anong ev­ery night on­line but I miss them both ter­ri­bly. Be­fore this change the Home Of­fice would have recog­nised that my daugh­ter is a Bri­tish cit­i­zen.”

Cam­paign­ers say the rule has forced many UK f am­i­lies i nto sep­a­ra­tion or ex­ile.

There are 15,000 Bri­tish chil­dren said to have grown up as Skype kids sim­ply to keep in con­tact with one of their par­ents since the rul­ing was brought into force.

Last Fe­bru­ary the Supreme Court up­held the law change af­ter an ap­peal. Jus­tices did ac­knowl­edge that the rule “causes hard­ship to many thou­sands of cou­ples, in­clud­ing some who are in no way to blame for the sit­u­a­tion in which they find them­selves”.

They also agreed it has “a par­tic­u­larly harsh ef­fect” on Bri­tish cit­i­zens who have lived and worked abroad, have mar­ried or formed sta­ble re­la­tion­ships there – es­pe­cially cou­ples who got to­gether be­fore 2012 – and now can­not re­turn home to the UK.

“Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern is the im­pact upon the chil­dren of these cou­ples, many or even most of whom will be Bri­tish cit­i­zens them­selves,” said the judges.

How­ever, they added, that “does not mean the rul­ing is in­com­pat­i­ble” with ar­ti­cle 8 of the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights, on the right to fam­ily life.

Patrick said: “The Supreme Court called the new rule cruel and harsh but not il­le­gal. So, thank you, Mrs May.

“I can un­der­stand why we have to stop im­mi­grants in high num­bers but she doesn’t think of fam­i­lies like mine.”

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