Free movement for EU citizens will end on day one of a no-deal Brexit under new Home Office plans, a new report has claimed.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is determined for border restrictions to be imposed immediately on October 31, even without a replacement system, says The Independent. Ministers had wanted to delay stopping free movement until new rules are in place, with a stalled bill and heated arguments in the Commons.
The move has been called ‘brutal’ by the Liberal Democrats, who have slammed Ms Patel as being ‘completely detached from reality’. Ed Davey, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, said: ‘It is completely detached from reality and is next chapter in the never-ending saga of the utter mess they are making of Brexit. ‘What would this mean for EU citizens who have made their home in the UK who have travelled abroad when they try to return?
‘Are the government seriously suggesting an NHS nurse who is an EU national may not be allowed to return to the country if they happen to have been on holiday? It is absurd.’ The government refused to bring forward the stalled Bill which would bring free movement to an end under a slower schedule, fearing a mass dispute within the House of Commons.
However, the report claims that Ms Patel thinks she can make it happen by acting through secondary legislation, something that would bypass MPs who oppose it. Home Office officials have reportedly been sent to Singapore to copy its solution to technical issues, with the newly-appointed home secretary believing that it can be brought in quickly. But Sir Ed denied that Ms Patel could bypass passing an act of parliament, saying an attempt of any sort was ‘outrageous’.
Nicolas Hatton, head of the3million group of EU citizens in this country, also said: ‘There are no systems in place and nothing is ready.
‘This is a political gesture, but it will have a real impact on people’s lives. This will open the door to discrimination. ‘How will they distinguish between the ‘legacy people’, those already here, and those who will arrive afterwards?’ The government won’t reinstate the existing immigration bill due to worries that it will be hijacked by MPs who want to block a no-deal Brexit.
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