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UK to end EU freedom of movement with Brexit on Oct 31

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Freedom of movement will end on October 31, the British prime minister’s office says following reports officials had warned against an immediate change on Brexit day if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.

 

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Number 10 says the system allowing European Union citizens to freely live and work in the UK would “look different”, with changes including tougher checks to prevent foreign criminals entering the country.

The prime minister wants an Australian-style points-based immigration system tailored to suit the UK’s needs after Brexit.

Home Office officials produced a discussion paper for a ministerial no-deal Brexit meeting last week warning that doing so could present a “handling and reputational risk” for the government, the Times reported.

A source told the newspaper the document raised concerns that an “interim” immigration system would prove impossible to enforce because the government and employers would be unable to distinguish new arrivals from those already in the UK.

It recommended that free movement should continue until the new immigration system was ready in January 2021 to provide “maximum certainty” to EU citizens and employers.

But a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Freedom of movement as it currently stands will end on October 31 when the UK leaves the EU.

“So, for example, we will introduce, immediately, much tougher criminality rules for people entering the UK.”

Details of other changes are being developed and will be set out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The Downing Street spokeswoman insisted that EU citizens currently resident in the UK would not be prevented from re-entering the country after trips abroad although it was unclear how checks would be carried out.

The system allowing EU citizens to apply for settled status would be unchanged and the two million who had not yet completed the process would not be prevented from entering the UK by the ending of free movement.

The 3 Million group, which campaigns for the rights of EU citizens in the UK, said in a statement: “The idea of ending freedom of movement abruptly on October 31 in case of no-deal is reckless politics.

“It hollows out the prime minister’s unequivocal guarantee to EU citizens he has given only three weeks ago.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey said there was a “question mark” over whether the government’s plans to end freedom of movement on October 31 would be legal and whether the ports and the borders “could actually cope logistically”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One program: “This is increasing uncertainty for all employers and I think could be highly damaging for people using the NHS or depend on the services of a business that has EU workers.”

The government, he said, “hasn’t even said what they’d put in its place”, adding: “This is chaos gone mad. Priti Patel is almost setting fire to the British economy and British public services.”

-AAP

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