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UK to close doors to EU migrants soon after Brexit

After Brexit, EU citizens are likely to be subject to immigration rules like those applicable to Indians and other non-EU citizens, such as work permit.

world Updated: Jul 27, 2017 19:10 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
After Brexit, EU citizens are likely to be subject to immigration rules like those applicable to Indians and other non-EU citizens, such as work permit.
After Brexit, EU citizens are likely to be subject to immigration rules like those applicable to Indians and other non-EU citizens, such as work permit. (Reuters)

Britain on Thursday confirmed the principle of free movement that allows EU citizens to move, work and live in any of the 28 member-states will end as soon as the process of Brexit is completed some time in March 2019, indicating lack of clarity in the Theresa May government.

Thursday’s statement by immigration minister Brandon Lewis that the freedom of movement will end after Brexit contradicts recent reports that the May cabinet was agreeable to allowing free movement for at least four years after Brexit is formalised.

There were also indications that after Brexit, EU citizens will be subject to similar immigration rules applicable to Indians and other non-EU citizens; such as work permit. The migration advisory committee was also asked to report on the post-Brexit impact.

Lewis told BBC: “Free movement of labour ends when we leave the European Union in the spring of 2019. I’ll be very clear about that. Obviously, there’s a period of negotiation we’re going through with the European Union at the moment”.

“But we’re very clear that free movement ends. It’s part of the four key principles of the European Union. When we leave, that, by definition, ends.”

Lewis’ comments are likely to concern British companies that employ EU workers.

Companies and business organisations have been lobbying with the government for clarity on the post-Brexit situation, since many depend on skills brought by EU professionals.

Pat McFadden of the Labour party described the government’s position as a “shambles”.

“Only hours after the home secretary announces there will be no cliff edge when we leave the EU, her immigration minister announces a definite end to freedom of movement from March 2019,” said McFadden, a leading member of the pro-EU campaign group Open Britain.

“This morning’s announcement throws a grenade into attempts to reassure the country that there will be no Brexit cliff edge...Ministers are contradicting one another by the hour. The country needs good leadership during this crucial period. It is certainly not getting it.”