EU citizens 'will still be able to move to Britain after Brexit'

Posted On: 
17th August 2017

EU citizens will still be free to live in the UK after Brexit, according to plans reportedly being drawn up by the Home Office.

Passport control at Heathrow airport

Under the plans, there will not be any limits on travel to the UK or those who want to live here - but there will be a limited number of permits for those moving here to the UK for work. 

It would mean Europeans would be free to come to the UK to look for a job without first securing a special visa, although if they find work their employer would have to apply for a work permit.

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Under the draft proposals, which have not been signed off across government, employers would have to pay a charge for each permit - a move designed to encourage firms to hire British workers. 

The number of permits would also be sector-specific, allowing industries heavily reliant on migrant labour to recruit the workers they need.

It remains unclear what rights EU workers would have in terms of benefits and using public services, including the NHS. 

The report follows yesterday's announcement that the Government will not seek a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, effectively leaving an open frontier between the UK and the EU.

However, the new plans imply there would be no "back door" into Northern Ireland, because EU citizens would still be able to freely travel to the rest of the UK anyway.

"Why would someone bother to go in through the back door rather than the front door?" a Whitehall source told the Times.

"We have always been clear that the concern of the public is to take control of the number of people working and claiming benefits. It is not about issuing visas." 

The Government's position paper on Northern Ireland makes a similar point, saying: "Along with many other member states, controlling access to the labour market and social security have long formed an integral part of the UK’s immigration system."