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Home Affairs Committee considers options for post-Brexit migration policy

Date of Publication: 
9 August 2018
Summary: 

Report considers future EU/EEA migration policy despite "shocking" delay in Government white paper

Home Affairs Committee considers options for post-Brexit migration policy

09 August 2018
EIN

Parliament's Home Affairs Committee released an interim report on 31 July looking at the options for future EU/EEA migration policy after Brexit.

The 52-page report is here.

As the report notes, the delay in the publication of the Government's white paper on immigration means there is little indication of what future migration policy will be. The report says the delay is "not the result of design, but indecision," and adds "it is shocking that it has taken more than two years since the referendum for the UK Government to set out any information on future arrangements at all."

The Home Affairs Committee's report considers the "limited" statements so far made by the Government about future migration policy, and sets out the range of options for EU/EEA migration during the transition period and beyond, that witnesses and other contributors have put to the Committee.

The interim report looks at three broad sets of policy options:

  • Within the EU and during transition there are further measures that could be taken, in particular on registration, enforcement, skills and labour market reform.
  • Within an EFTA-style arrangement with close or full participation in the single market, the report highlights a range of further measures that might be possible - especially in a bespoke negotiated agreement. These include 'emergency brake' provisions, controls on access to the UK labour market, accession style controls and further measures which build on the negotiation carried out by the previous Prime Minister.
  • Within an association agreement or free trade agreement, the options in part depend on how close such an agreement is. While any agreement itself may not cover many 'labour mobility' measures, the government will still need to make decisions about long-term migration, including for work, family and study.

The Home Affairs Committee does not put forward a preferred option but calls on the Government to note the high level of dissatisfaction with the existing immigration system for non-EEA nationals. "Extending the non-EEA structure to include EEA citizens is simply untenable and unworkable," the report concludes.

The Committee warns that migration policy now risks being caught up in a rushed and highly politicised debate in the run up to March 2019 and it cautions all those involved in the Brexit debate on the withdrawal agreement not to exploit or escalate tensions over immigration.

Yvette Cooper, Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, said:

"Immigration was one of the central issues during the referendum and it divided the country, but sadly there has been no attempt by the Government to hold any kind of sensible debate on it or build any kind of consensus on immigration since. That is deeply disappointing and it has left a vacuum—and it's really important that people don't exploit that again.

"The misinformation and tensions over immigration during the referendum campaign were deeply damaging and divisive. It is essential that does not happen again, and those who exploited concerns over immigration during the referendum need to be more honest and more responsible when it is debated in the run up to the final deal.

"We are calling for a measured debate and consultation on immigration options instead. We found there were a much wider range of possible precedents and options for immigration reform than people often talk about - including options that could be combined with participation in the single market - that we believe the Government should be exploring further now."