The right for EU citizens to come and live and work in the UK will remain largely unchanged, even if Britain leaves without a deal at the end of October, Boris Johnson’s government has conceded.
Britain’s new Home Secretary reportedly wants free movement to end completely the day after Brexit.
However, Johnson’s spokesperson said on Monday that while free movement “as it currently stands” would end after Britain’s exit date of October 31, there were no plans yet in place for an entirely new system to replace it.
When pushed on how exactly immigration rules would change at the end of October, Johnson’s spokesperson could only point to increased criminality checks planned for EU citizens arriving in the UK.
“We will introduce much tougher criminality rules for people entering the UK,” his spokesperson said.
“Details of other changes immediately after October 31 for a new immigration system are currently being developed and we will set out further plans on that shortly.”
Privately, government figures suggest there is simply not enough time to draw up an entirely new immigration system before Brexit.
One government source told Business Insider that while there may be further changes to current immigration rules before October, there would not be an entirely new immigration system ready to replace free movement.
“It may not look a whole lot different to what the previous government set out,” the source said.
The concession means that free movement will continue for some time, whether or not Johnson’s government agrees a new deal with the EU.
Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, signed up to by May’s government, current immigration rules will continue during any transition period.