This afternoon, Brexit secretary, David Davis, published an official policy document setting out the government’s Brexit plans. The white paper lays out the government’s 12 “principles” including migration control and “taking control of our own laws.” Speaking after publishing the white paper, David Davis said that ministers will have to introduce separate legislation to set out new immigration and customs systems after the UK leaves the EU.
Although the section on immigration in the white paper is not long, there are some points worth noting. In paragraph 5.9, the government acknowledges the importance of understanding the impact Brexit will have on the different sectors of the economy and the labour market. It therefore will be consulting with businesses and communities to ensure they have the opportunity to contribute their views.
On the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, the white paper goes no further than Theresa May’s speech. The government confirms that securing the status of EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU is one of its “early priorities for the forthcoming negotiations.”
In paragraph 5.10, the government recognises that any new immigration arrangements for EU nationals will be “complex” and suggests that “there may be a phased process of implementation” to give individuals and businesses time to plan and prepare.
On a whole, the white paper does not say whether or not EU workers will continue to get some form of preferential access to the UK. However, the government has confirmed that in the short-term EU students can continue to come and study in the UK.
The government has been criticised by shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer for revealing little new in the document.