Finally some good news when it comes to Brexit! It has been revealed by The Times that EU citizens will be able to travel freely to Britain and set up home here, according to the latest immigration plans being proposed by the Home Office.
There will be no visa system put in place for EU citizens to travel or come to stay in the UK, but a permit system will be established in order to limit the amount of people travelling to come and work in Britain.
The plans, which are set to be officially published in a matter of weeks, assure Europeans that there will be no ‘extra curbs’ on citizens at immigration control. This extends to those who are coming here to work. However, upon application, it would be down to businesses to apply for sponsorship permits in order to employ an EU worker.
The permits themselves will be regulated by the government, with a certain amount issued to individual sectors. Additionally, these sponsorship permits would come at a cost as part of a plan to encourage the hiring of British workers first and foremost.
Spot checks will then be carried out by immigration officers in order to ensure that the system is not being abused. However, regulation on whether EU nationals will be able to access the NHS free-of-charge, or claim benefits has not been revealed, although there have been rumours of a ‘four-year waiting period’ to prevent abuse of this system too.
This release comes amidst somewhat of a furore over Northern Ireland potentially becoming a ‘backdoor’ for EU nationals to enter the UK; last week the government published a paper stating that the UK would keep the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangement, which prevents routine border controls between the Republic of Ireland and the north.
Calamitous ex-leader of the UKIP party, Nigel Farage once again used this as platform to push his agenda, stating that, “Once again the UK government is bowing to EU demands. The operation of the land border between the north and south should be none of their business. That the government would willingly allow EU nationals to freely move into UK territory is of concern.”
In response to such criticism Whitehall issued the following statement: “Why would someone bother to go in through the back door rather than the front door? 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.”
Assuaging any relenting unease, the source from within Whitehall also revealed that EU citizens would have to have their passport checked upon arrival in Ireland, with information on who has arrived in the country to be passed onto the UK.
In light of these recent revelations, it seems that the funk that has been shrouding Whitehall since 2016’s referendum has lifted slightly. Speaking on the matter, Sir Ed Davey, a Lib Dem former cabinet minister, said: “The Conservatives are finally admitting that there are ways to control free movement by making reforms to our labour market and social security. That raises the question: why are they still planning to damage jobs and living standards by leaving the single market?”
Of course, this doesn’t solve all of the issues that Brexit has thrown up, but as far as I am concerned this is certainly a step in the right direction.
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