Brexit: UK-EU freedom of movement ‘to end in March 2019’

BBC News

Passport control at Gatwick Airport

A new immigration system will be in place by March 2019 when the free movement of people between the EU and the UK ends, a minister has said.

Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis was speaking as the government commissioned a “detailed assessment” of the costs and benefits of EU migrants.

The report is due to be completed in September 2018 – six months before the UK’s scheduled date for leaving the EU.

Critics said the study had been requested a year too late.

The CBI said businesses “urgently” needed to know what EU migration would look like, both in any “transitional” period after March 2019 and beyond.

Ministers have also promised an “extensive” consultation to listen to the views of businesses, unions and universities.

Immigration was one of the central topics of last year’s EU referendum campaign, and ministers have promised to “take back control” of the UK’s borders as they negotiate Brexit.

An immigration bill, which will reveal the government’s chosen method, was included in last month’s Queen’s Speech.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Lewis would not confirm details of how the government plans to manage migration after Brexit, saying these would be revealed in a white paper later this year, and that the immigration bill would go through Parliament in 2018.

Freedom of movement will end “in the spring of 2019”, immigration minister Brandon Lewis tells Today

Ministers have promised an implementation period after Brexit to avoid a “cliff edge” scenario as the new rules kick in.

Mr Lewis said it was a “simple matter of fact” that EU free movement rules would not apply during this time, and that a new system would be in place by Spring 2019.

He was also pressed on the Conservative manifesto pledge to reduce overall net migration – currently 248,000 – to the tens of thousands.

He confirmed this was party policy but would not set an “arbitrary” year by which this would be achieved.

The Home Office has asked the advisory committee to consider the regional distribution of EU migration, which sectors are most reliant on it, and the role of temporary and seasonal workers.

Costs and benefits

The committee will also study the “economic and social costs and benefits of EU migration to the UK economy”, its impact on competitiveness, and whether there would be benefits to focusing migration on high-skilled jobs.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “We will ensure we continue to attract those who benefit us economically, socially and culturally.

“But, at the same time, our new immigration system will give us control of the volume of people coming here – giving the public confidence we are applying our own rules on who we want to come to the UK and helping us to bring down net migration to sustainable levels.”

Speaking in Sydney, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was unaware of the report that has been commissioned, adding that immigration had been “fantastic for the energy and dynamism of the economy” but “that doesn’t mean that you can’t control it”.

Labour said there should be no changes to the UK’s migration system until the committee’s report had been completed and debated.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “There is far too much heat and not enough light about immigration, so any truly objective and well-informed analysis must be welcome.”

‘First step’

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey said the move would “do nothing to reassure the hospitals that are already seeing record numbers of EU nurses leaving, or the companies struggling to recruit the staff they need”.

“The NHS, businesses and universities that depend on European citizens need answers now, not in another 14 months’ time,” he added.

The CBI said commissioning the report was a “sensible first step”, adding: “Workers from across Europe strengthen our businesses and help our public services run more smoothly – any new migration system should protect these benefits while restoring public confidence.”

Manufacturers’ organisation EEF said the migration committee was “best placed” to advise on what EU migration should look like after Brexit.

“Many manufacturers will see today’s announcement as a first step, with the government for the first time acknowledging that future migration changes will be implemented in a measured way over a period of years,” it said.

Both EEF and the CBI called for an immediate resolution of the question of the status of EU nationals already living in the UK.


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One Response to “Brexit: UK-EU freedom of movement ‘to end in March 2019’”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

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