News | Published August 24 2019

UK cannot end freedom of movement on 31st October, experts say

According to Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, the UK cannot end freedom of movement on the 31st October.

Although the Home Office have stated that freedom of movement would end immediately under a no-deal Brexit, the Migration Observatory have argued this would be impossible because there is no system to identify who is legally in the country.

Under the existing system, EU nationals do not have to record their presence in the UK and so the Home Office does not have records of when they have arrived. 

Because of this, the Migration Observatory have said it will be impossible for employers to know if EU citizens have arrived after 31 October.

The director of the Migration Observatory, Madeleine Sumption, said: “Even if the government knew exactly what it wanted the post-Brexit immigration system to look like, it wouldn’t be possible to implement it immediately after a no-deal Brexit.

“That’s because any new restrictions on EU migration can’t be enforced unless UK employers know which EU citizens have been here for years and which ones arrived post-Brexit and have to comply with the new immigration regime.”

Currently, the only way of knowing whether EU nationals have been living in the UK prior to this deadline is the settlement scheme, which closes in December 2020. 

This scheme aims to register all EU nationals living in the UK but there is no legal obligation for all of them to register.

As of July, only a third of the 3.3 million EU citizens living in the UK had applied.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said it would set out the details of upcoming changes to EU migration “shortly” after Brexit and encouraged EU citizens to register for the settlement scheme.

The spokesperson said: “Free movement as it currently stands will end on 31 October when we leave the EU.”

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
August 24 2019

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