Free movement of EU citizens to Britain will end in 2019

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

The free movement of EU citizens to the UK will end in 2019, a spokesperson for Number 10 has confirmed.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted the Government’s position remained as set out by Theresa May in her Lancaster House speech on Brexit.

He said: “Free movement will end in March 2019. We have published proposals on citizens’ rights.

Theresa May’s spokesman confirmed free movement will end after Brexit (Rex)

“Last week, the Home Secretary said there will be a registration system for migrants arriving post-March 2019.

“Other elements of the post-Brexit immigration system will be brought forward in due course.

“It would be wrong to speculate on what these might look like or to suggest that free movement will continue as it is now.”

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The comments end days of confusion and rumoured cabinet splits over the issue of immigration after Brexit.

Immigration minister Brandon Lewis let slip in a radio interview that free movement would end on Brexit day.

However, his comments came on the same day the Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the Government could have new immigration rules in place on the day Britain left the EU.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said there should be no change to immigration rules after Brexit (PA)

Chancellor Philip Hammond added fuel to Cabinet split rumours when he said last week that there should be no immediate change to immigration rules when Britain leaves.

However, Number 10 dismissed the idea that the UK was seeking an “off-the-shelf” model for the transitional period, as Mr Hammond had reportedly told business leaders.

The spokesman said: “We are not looking for an off-the-shelf model. Precise details of what the implementation period looks like are for negotiation.”

International Trade Secretary and leading Brexiteer Liam Fox said unregulated free movement of labour after Brexit would “not keep faith” with the EU referendum result and that the Cabinet had not agreed a stance on immigration.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox insisted the cabinet was united on free movement (PA)

Number 10’s intervention came as Cabinet ministers Jeremy Hunt and Sir Michael Fallon sought to play down reports of splits within Mrs May’s top team.

Downing Street acknowledged “it will take time to get immigration numbers down” but the Government remained committed to that aim.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael said the issue of immigration policy during a transitional deal would be “one of the details” for the Brexit negotiations.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier denied any cabinet split over the immigration issue (PA)

Sir Michael, taking part in Passchendaele memorial events in Ypres, said: “It’s not an argument, it’s part of the negotiations.

“We have always understood that we have to ensure immigration is managed properly, that’s what the public expect to see – that there are controls of it.

“That’s one of the details that’s going to be sorted out during the negotiations. It’s not an argument raging around the Cabinet table.”

Boris Johnson was forced to deny being on the verge of quitting over how Brexit is being handled (PA)

Health Secretary Mr Hunt insisted the Cabinet was “completely united”, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It has to be a Brexit that works for business, it has to work for the NHS, the NHS needs to recruit doctors and nurses from all over Europe and that is going to continue after we leave the European Union.”

A spokesman for Boris Johnson was forced to dismiss a suggestion that the Foreign Secretary was about to quit over the way Brexit was being handled.

He said Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, who had referred to rumours about Mr Johnson’s future, was “making this stuff up”.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the Foreign Secretary was “doing an excellent job”.