Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond has indicated that it will be years before Britain has new border controls, as Home Secretary Amber Rudd says EU citizens will still be allowed to migrate to the UK after Brexit.
At first glance, the statements appear to bluntly contradict the claims of Tory MP Brandon Lewis, who claimed Thursday: “Free Movement of Labour ends when we leave the European Union in the Spring of 2019”.
Mr. Hammond was arguing for a so-called ‘transition period’ after Brexit, and Ms. Rudd said new migrants would have to register their arrival during such a period.
She also insisted, however, that freedom of movement would officially end in March 2019 when Britain leaves the bloc after the two-year Article 50 period ends.
Yet, the difference between the official end to free movement and current arrangements could be little more than symbolic.
Government sources later conceded that the rules governing EU migrants during the transitional period “may look like a similar arrangement” to current free movement rules, The Telegraph reports.
Proponents of greater immigration controls have been sceptical of Tory claims; with UKIP leader Nigel Farage suggesting Thursday that “business and a Tory government” were preparing a “great Brexit betrayal” on immigration.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) July 28, 2017
The Conservative party has been promising to bring immigration down below 100,000 for years, as it has remained at around 250,000.
The Chancellor explained his proposed transition period to BBC News Friday, claiming the Cabinet had agreed it should run until June 2022.
He argued the Government was focused on making sure little changed on the first day of Brexit. “People want to know that the day after we leave the European Union they are still able to go about their business”, he said.
“They will want to know that when we go to the supermarket, French and Spanish produce will be on the shelves, they will want to know that if they want to travel to Europe or go on holiday, they will be able to go to the airport, get on a plane to their destination.”
Ms. Rudd’s suggestion that EU nationals would still be able to travel freely to Britain during the transition period came on Thursday, when she also said they would have to register their arrival.
Ms. Rudd told the Migration Advisory Committee’s chairman Professor Alan Manning that during the transition period there would be “a straightforward system for the registration and documentation of new arrivals”.