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Brexit latest: Free movement of EU citizens to Britain will end in 2019


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Number 10 said on Monday that free movement could not continue once Brexit is finalised and Britain leaves the European Union.

This comes after rumours of disagreements within the Cabinet and days of uncertainty regarding the principal issue of immigration post-Brexit.

Regarding new policies, Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “Any transitional period would have to be finished by… the next general election, June 2022.” In a statement that proved controversial, and whilst Theresa May was in Italy, Hammond announced he favoured a “standstill” Brexit transition, with “many arrangements remaining very similar to how they were the day before we exited”, suggesting the free movement of labour could continue for up to three years after Brexit.  

Downing Street has since issued a statement confirming that free movement between the EU and the UK will end March 2019, in an apparent attempt by May to reign in Hammond. From this date, workers from the EU coming to Britain will have to register until a permanent post-Brexit immigration policy is implemented.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has expressed concerns over the unregulated free movement of labour continuing beyond Brexit, arguing it would “not keep faith” with the results of last year’s referendum. He added that thus far, the Cabinet had not agreed on a uniform stance on immigration.

As for now, the Home Office has requested for the Migration Advisory Committee to investigate the “economic and social costs and benefits of EU migration to the UK economy”, and whether it would be beneficial to focus migration on high-skilled workers. The report will purportedly be released only six months before Brexit, something which Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott rose concerns over, stating it would not allow enough time to design a new immigration system.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said that the aim of this report is to design a system that would attract migrants who benefit the UK economically, socially and culturally, whilst still giving Westminster control over the numbers coming in, and restoring public confidence that the UK was applying its own rules on immigration.

However, Home Affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey criticised the move for doing nothing immediate to reassure businesses, the NHS and universities, as to the future of immigration.

After leading members of May’s government this week contradicted one another regarding Brexit plans, Downing Street has confirmed that May’s position, which stated that free movement would end in the spring of 2019, remains set.

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