What a confusing week it has been in Westminster. Prime Minister, Theresa May is on holiday in Northern Italy. And with the cat being away, the mice will play (or infight).
As a testament to how divided the Government is on Brexit, Chancellor Phillip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd told reporters that to avoid a “cliff edge” for business in March 2019, when Britain formally leaves the EU, there would be some flexibility regarding EU immigration for some years at least.
In an article in the Financial Times, Ms Rudd presented an apparently more open immigration policy, saying the U.K. can control migration from the EU “while still attracting the best and brightest”.
Damian Green, David Gauke and Greg Clark are among those ministers likely to push the Prime Minister to accept that while free movement will officially end, there should be no immediate move to reduce immigration.
However, devoted Brexiteers came out swinging at any suggestion there would still be free movement after Brexit.
International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, declared there was no cabinet-wide agreement on what a post-Brexit implementation period would look like, and warned that “control of our own borders” was a key driver of the leave vote.
The government’s first hints at what a post-Brexit migration system will look like are likely to land in late autumn when the Home Office publishes a white paper. Mr Lewis, is said to be meeting a series of industry groups to help design a framework, and will be considering how the government’s IT systems will support a registration system that will have to deal with three million EU citizens living in Britain.
What does this mean for EU nationals?
Until there is more clarity, EU nationals living in the UK who are eligible for British citizenship may wish to apply to give themselves peace of mind. One of the requirements for EU nationals to get British citizenship is they must have an EU Permanent Residence Card.
Meanwhile, we can only hope that Theresa May does not return from holiday with any wild plans. Last time she went on a break, the country was forced into a calamitous, disruptive, expensive and totally unnecessary general election.
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Posted on: Thursday, 03 August, 2017