Changes to immigration could be ‘phased process’ post-Brexit, UK Government says

Written by Nicholas Mairs on 3 February 2017 in News

The UK Government’s white paper on Brexit suggests new arrangements for immigration for EU nationals could be phased in

An EU flag being waved outside the Supreme Court - Image credit: PA Images

Changes to Britain’s immigration policy after Brexit are to be a “phased process”, the UK Government has suggested in its white paper on leaving the EU.

The policy document, which details the UK’s negotiating priorities with the remaining EU countries, says ministers will allow businesses and individuals the time to adapt to any new arrangements.

The white paper outlines the 12-point plan, first set out by Theresa May in her Lancaster House speech, for how Britain will approach talks with Brussels leaders.


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On the point titled “controlling immigration”, it implies free movement could continue for a period after the UK leaves the EU.

The paper says: “Implementing any new immigration arrangements for EU nationals and the support they receive will be complex and Parliament will have an important role in considering these matters further.

“There may be a phased process of implementation to prepare for the new arrangements.

“This would give businesses and individuals enough time to plan and prepare for those new arrangements.”

It also outlines plans to "build a comprehensive picture" in addressing the needs of different parts of the UK, with regard to immigration.

Earlier today Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, said the paper had come “too late in the day”.

Starmer said: “Normally I would thank the Secretary of State for early sight of his statement, but this statement says nothing.”

He added: “For months we’ve been calling for a plan, that was refused on the basis that there wouldn’t be a running commentary, then the government agreed a plan but delivered a speech, then they were forced to concede under pressure that there would be a white paper, now there’s a white paper too late in the day for us to ask meaningful questions to the Secretary of State in this session today. That is completely unacceptable.”

Starmer also said the lack of a commitment towards a “meaningful” final vote giving parliament the power to reject Theresa May's final Brexit deal was “demeaning of this house”.

“Flicking through the white paper I see… all that’s said about the final vote, is that the final deal that is agreed will be put to vote in both houses of parliament,” he said.

“We have amendments down for next week seeking a meaningful vote, a vote in this house before a vote is taken in the European Parliament.

“Otherwise all honourable members will have to watch on their screens as the European Parliament votes on our deal before we get to express any views on it.

"That is completely unacceptable and it is demeaning of this house."

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the paper showed the Government’s intention to approach negotiations with the 27 EU members in a “spirit of goodwill”.

"The white paper confirms the Prime Minister’s vision of an independent, truly global UK and an ambitious future relationship with the EU.

"This is based on the 12 principles that will guide the Government in fulfilling the democratic will of the people of the UK.

"These 12 objectives amount to one goal: a new, positive and constructive partnership between Britain and the European Union, that works in our mutual interest.

"It is in the UK’s interest for the EU to succeed politically and economically. And so we approach the negotiation to come in a spirit of goodwill and working to an outcome in our mutual benefit."

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