Cabinet agrees that EU nationals will face same immigration rules as people from the rest of the world
Government agrees principles of post-Brexit immigration system during Monday Cabinet meeting
26 September 2018
News media reported earlier this week that the Government has started to agree on the shape of the UK's post-Brexit immigration system.
According to BBC News, immigration was discussed at length during Monday's Cabinet meeting and the meeting included a presentation by Professor Alan Manning, the chair of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
BBC News reported that ministers had reached a "high-level conclusion" and agreed in principle that there would be no preferential access for EU/EEA nationals after Brexit and they would instead face the same immigration rules as people from the rest of the world.
The Guardian reported that the Cabinet agreed a post-Brexit immigration system that will offer visas to immigrants in a tiered system based on skills and wealth. Ministers signed off a plan by Home Secretary Sajid Javid that would allow skilled workers to more easily obtain visas than unskilled workers.
A Government source told the Guardian, however, that the Home Secretary recognised the continuing need for visas for unskilled workers in some sectors. The source said: "Whilst the MAC report said that low-skilled immigration doesn't really add anything to the economy, Sajid recognises that for certain types of businesses, including hospitality and social care, you do need that labour flow coming in. So it's about necessity and what the economy requires, but with an absolute guarantee of ending freedom of movement and not having the preferential system."
Sky News quoted a Downing Street statement issued after the meeting as saying: "Once free movement is brought to an end, the government will be able to introduce a new system which works in the best interests of the UK - including by helping to boost productivity."
According to Sky News, employers could face a £1,000 per head annual immigration skills surcharge for employing EU migrants after Brexit.
Government sources told the BBC, however, that while free movement for EU nationals would end, there could still be "light touch migration" from the EU as part of a wider trade deal.
Full details will be set out in the Government's (very) long-awaited immigration White Paper, which is due to be published later this year.