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Planned crackdown on EU migration after Brexit revealed in Home Office leak

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Secret government proposals to curb the number of low-skilled migrants coming to the UK after Brexit have been revealed in a leaked Home Office paper.

The document seen by the Guardian sets out a "more selective approach" to immigration, with a greater emphasis on jobs for British workers.

The free movement of people from the EU will end on the day Britain quits the bloc, it makes clear, and those seeking low-skilled work will have their residency limited to just two years.

Those in “high-skilled occupations” will be able to stay for between three to five years, according to the 82-page document.

It says employers would be encouraged to recruit “resident labour”, with the possibility that EU nationals would have to seek permission before accepting a job.

New restrictions on European nationals bringing family members to the UK are also floated in the document, which is dated August 2017.

"The Government will take a view on the economic and social needs of the country as regards EU migration, rather than leaving this decision entirely to those wishing to come here and employers," the paper says.

But it suggests the new regime would only become fully active after a transitional period which could last up to three years.

Theresa May has insisted that net migration must come down to the tens of thousands, despite warnings that it could damage the economy.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: "Labour wants fair rules and reasonable management of migration in accordance with the needs of our economy and our values as a party.

"This leaked document is not yet government policy. If it becomes so, we will judge it against the criteria we have laid out."

However Labour MP and Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper questioned whether ministers had considered the impact of their plans on a future UK-EU trade deal.

She said: "Does this document reflect the view of the Home Office or Number 10? The Government's process for developing its policy seems to be completely confused. And what assessment has been done of the impact or the interrelationship between immigration proposals and any trade or single market deal?"

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "These leaked proposals are a disgrace - these policies as proposed by the Home Office will effectively break up family units. It only exacerbates the uncertainty already experienced by EU citizens who have chosen to make the UK their home.

"This paper serves to placate the Brexiteers and to further destroy any shred of goodwill with our European partners during a crucial time of the exit negotiations."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "It’s no wonder these back of an envelope plans are causing rows between ministers. They would do nothing to tackle falling living standards and insecure jobs.

"These plans would create an underground economy, encouraging bad bosses to exploit migrants and undercut decent employers offering good jobs."

But Ukip welcomed the plans and said they should be implemented “without fudging”.

A Government spokesperson refused to comment on the document, but said “initial proposals” for the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system would be set out in the autumn.

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