Amber Rudd says new immigration system 'likely' to be in place by the time Britain leaves EU
Britain is "likely" to have a new immigration system in place by the time it leaves the European Union, the Home Secretary has said.
Amber Rudd said a White Paper would appear by the end of this year, after the Migration Advisory Commission has produced its recommendations on what the future borders policy should look like.
She made clear changes would not come into force until "after the implementation period", which is expected to go on until the end of 2021.
The Government commissioned the MAC report after coming under concerted pressure from businesses worried about the effect of a clampdown on immigration on the labour supply.
The agricultural sector in particular has voiced concerns that there will not be enough workers to harvest fruit and vegetables, meaning produce could be left to rot in the fields.
Speaking to the Today programme, Ms Rudd said the Government would have to wait until September to start putting together its new post-Brexit system.
"We have always said that the plan to have an Immigration Bill is going to be part of providing the structure that we need to take immigration into the UK competence, so it's no longer part of freedom of movement as we leave the EU.
"How we actually structure our new immigration system after we've left, after the implementation period, is going to be based on the MAC report, which is coming out in September."
Pressed on when the White Paper would be published by Brexit Day on March 29, 2019, she replied: "That is likely."
However she said her priority now was to reach an agreement quickly on the rights of EU citizens who are already in the UK.
"The really important thing in terms of immigration is the EU citizens who are here. They need to know what certainty they've got, what the arrangements are and we need to know too what the EU citizens' rights are going to be, coming and going, during the 2019-21 [period].
"I completely understand businesses want to know, of course people want to know what's taking place post-21, but if I put that in terms of the timeline that does reduce the urgency. What's urgent now is to make sure we get the implementation period and we get the EU citizens certainty for the next few years."