MPs condemn lack of post-Brexit immigration plan

The Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee has raised concerns over the state of the UK government’s preparation of post-Brexit immigration policy.

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A cross-party committee of MPs has attacked the UK government’s failure to set out its post-Brexit immigration plans, causing uncertainty for businesses and for EU citizens already living or planning to work in Britain.

Concerns over clear Brexit planning

The Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee described ministers’ delays in publishing their plans – an immigration white paper originally scheduled to be published last summer has been pushed back to an unknown date in the future – as “unacceptable”.Home Secretary Amber Rudd has only said the white paper was “likely” to be published by the end of the 2018. As a result, the committee said civil servants and border agencies were being left with “barely any time to recruit or plan” for Brexit in March next year.Confusion has surrounded which EU citizens will be granted residency after Brexit, said the report published on Wednesday. “The delay and the lack of any timetable for crucial decisions is extremely regrettable,” it said.“Failure to set out detailed plans for the registration and transition period soon will make it impossible for the already overstretched UK Visas and Immigration, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement to do their job properly.“The government’s failure to set out its immigration objectives for the negotiations over the transition soon will deny parliament and those affected the chance to debate plans before they are finalised. That is unacceptable.”
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Future of EU citizens rights within the UK

Nicolas Hatton, who chairs The3million organisation, which represents the three million-plus EU citizens currently living and working in the UK, said, “Today’s report confirms fears we have had for 600 days: that the British government is unwilling to find a solution to citizens’ rights. It is still using EU citizens as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations.”Mr Hatton said there was a lack of clarity over the future standing of EU citizens already in the UK, let alone the status of those who come to Britain during the transition period after Brexit.“This means total chaos next April when over three million people might not be able to prove their rights – with potentially devastating consequences,” he said.The report also accused the government of allocating “insufficient resources” for managing the process of registering all EU citizens currently living in Britain and for coping with the additional border security likely to be introduced after Brexit.UK Visas and Immigration has been asked to undertake two registration drives: one for all EU nationals living in the UK and another for new arrivals from Europe. 

Pressure on the UK’s immigration and border system

Yvette Cooper, the Labour chair of the committee, said, “Our inquiry found that the immigration and border system is already understaffed with significant problems and it will not cope with last-minute and under-resourced Brexit changes.“The litany of questions that remain over the status of EU citizens is causing needless anxiety and uncertainty, both for EU citizens and their families and for employers who need to plan. Ministers need to provide urgent answers.“The government does not seem to appreciate the immense bureaucratic challenge they are facing or how much time and resources they need to plan on Brexit. The Home Office will end up in a real mess next year if there isn’t enough time to sort things out.”

Home Office response

Responding to the report, a Home Office spokesman said, “It is ridiculous to suggest that we are not preparing sufficiently for leaving the EU.“It is precisely for this reason that we have already invested £60 million in 2017-18; are planning to recruit an additional 1,500 staff across the immigration, borders and citizenship system; and are well advanced in the development of a new scheme to give EU citizens currently here the right to stay after Brexit.“We will keep staffing under review as negotiations progress, but will always ensure we have the resources and workforce we need to run an effective system.”
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