Freedom of movement will continue after Brexit, with migrants able to fly straight from Europe without a visa, and no immigration controls along Irish border, new government plans have revealed.
According to the Home Office plan, due to be published in weeks, European Union (EU) citizens will be allowed to come and go freely to the UK, but will need permission to get a job or claim welfare benefits, sources told The Times.
Nothing, therefore, would stop criminals or would-be economic migrants travelling to the country to job-hunt. The government will only be able to limit numbers by restricting permits, which companies would have to apply for.
The plans are yet to be approved by all levels of government.
The reports come the day after the Brexit department published a position paper saying the government will maintain the Common Travel Area (CTW) and free movement with the Republic of Ireland after Brexit.
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage told the Press Association: “Once again the UK Government is bowing to EU demands.
“The operation of the land border between the north and south should be none of their business. That the government would willingly allow EU nationals to freely move into UK territory is of concern.”
— LBC (@LBC) August 16, 2017
A Whitehall source told The Times Ireland would not be used a “back door” for illegal immigration, as it was suggested yesterday, as the government would let them in through the “front door”, insisting the public were only worried about migrants claiming benefits and jobs. Criminals were not mentioned.
“Why would someone bother to go in through the back door rather than the front door? We have always been clear that the concern of the public is to take control of the number of people working and claiming benefits. It is not about issuing visas.”
Without border checks, it is thought immigration checks would take place on the spot and when migrants apply for housing, as they are now, and migrants would need to wait four years before claiming welfare.
John Bickley, UKIP’s spokesman on immigration, slammed the plans in a statement and said free movement had been decisively rejected in the referendum last year.
“The Conservatives must not think that they can economise on border control. They must stop the gradual co-option of private individuals, employers and landlords as unpaid border guards, a job they are being asked to do on pain of legal punishment.
“It is not the job of a businessman or woman to police our borders, it is the job of the Government.”
EU citizens entering Ireland would still be subject to passport checks, as in the UK. This information is shared between London and Dublin. Yesterday’s document on Ireland says:
“When considering the nature of the CTA as a border-free zone, it is important to note that immigration controls are not, and never have been, solely about the ability to prevent and control entry at the UK’s physical border.
“Along with many other member states, controlling access to the labour market and social security have long formed an integral part of the UK’s immigration system.
Anti-Brexit politicians were quick to praise the proposals, with Sir Ed Davey, a Liberal Democrat former cabinet minister, commenting:
“The Conservatives are finally admitting that there are ways to control free movement by making reforms to our labour market and social security.
“That raises the question: why are they still planning to damage jobs and living standards by leaving the single market?”