Home Office leak shows unpicking of EU nationals’ family reunion rights

The leaked Home Office document on Britain’s post-Brexit immigration policy spells out for the first time how ending the jurisdiction of the European court of justice will weaken family reunion rights for EU nationals in Britain.

The right – under which EU nationals can bring family members, including spouses, to live with them in the UK – is already a flashpoint in the Brexit talks on citizens’ rights. But the leaked document shows the Home Office wants to go further and extend restrictions that could turn thousands more into “Skype families”.

The document also confirms that the forthcoming immigration bill will only “switch off” regulations implementing EU free movement rules. The bulk of the new transitional and final immigration system will be introduced through secondary legislation that has minimal parliamentary scrutiny.

On family rights, the draft document says withdrawing from the European court of justice will mean that, for those who come to Britain after Brexit, European case law will no longer be binding on the UK.

For the first time it cites specific examples, quoting three cases in particular – Zambrano, Surinder Singh and Metock – which it claims have given “EU nationals rights to enter and remain in the UK which they would not otherwise have”.

The Home Office says that Metock has allowed a non-EU national illegally in the UK to remain if they form a genuine relationship with an EU citizen. Surinder Singh has allowed non-EU nationals who are partners of UK nationals who been legally living in another EU member state to become resident in Britain under EU, not UK, rules.


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