EU nationals will still be able to come to the UK during a transitional period after Brexit but will have to go through a “registration and documentation” process, Amber Rudd has said.
The home secretary reassured businesses that there will be “no cliff-edge” in the migration system when the UK officially leaves, after Brandon Lewis, her junior minister, said free movement would officially end in 2019.
Lewis’s remarks caused a stir because Michael Gove and other senior political figures had said the cabinet was effectively united on allowing free movement to continue during an implementation phase for two to four years after 2019.
Rudd said free movement would end as a point of principle in March 2019 because it is part of being in the EU. But arrangements very similar to free movement could still carry on during the implementation phase lasting until around 2022.
“There will be an implementation phase when new EU workers will need to register their details,” Rudd said, adding that the “full, new EU immigration policy” would come into force only after this transitional period is over.
Rudd has commissioned the migration advisory committee to help work out what this final immigration system could look like, asking it to examine the costs and benefits of migration from the EU.