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Downing Street spokesperson confirms freedom of movement will end in March 2019

Date of Publication: 
1 August 2017

Prime Minister's office seeks to clear up last week's confusion over Government's position

Downing Street spokesperson confirms freedom of movement will end in March 2019

01 August 2017

Following last week's seemingly conflicting information from Government ministers over the shape of the immigration system in March 2019 when the UK leaves the EU, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday sought to clear things up with a statement to the media.

The spokesperson said that freedom of movement, as it exits now, will end in March 2019, confirming what immigration minister Brandon Lewis told Radio 4 last week.

"The Prime Minister's position on an implementation period is very clear and well-known," the spokesperson was quoted as telling reporters by the Standard.

The spokesperson continued: "Free movement will end in March 2019. We have published proposals on citizens' rights. 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."

For's Ian Dunt, however, the statement failed to clarify what will actually happen in spring 2019, as he speculated that the difference between March and April 2019 might just be a matter of branding.

Dunt warned against overanalysing comments from Downing Street and ministers for clues as to policy, and concluded: "So in summary: Today's announcement means either that free movement will end, or that it won't end, or that it might end after a while, or that it won't end after a while, or that if it does end the system which replaces it might be completely different or that it might be identical."

Meanwhile, Colin Yeo said on Free Movement today that while Brexit offers an opportunity for a reset of immigration policy and law, it seems doubtful that the Government will be in any fit state to use it.

In a post looking at the increasing complexity of UK immigration law, Yeo concluded that the lack of accessibility, intelligibility and clarity has become a tool in the Government's efforts to drive down net migration.