Author: John Johnston
A new report from the cross-party Home Affairs Committee says that ministers have failed to give “basic details” about how the UK plans to control its borders, saying that practical information about potential costs or how the scheme may work in practice remain unknown.
They say that they are “extremely concerned” that Whitehall has failed to produce concrete proposals in the two years since the referendum and warned that migration policy now risked getting swept up in a “rushed and highly politicised debate.”
Theresa May and senior Cabinet members have insisted that freedom of movement from the EU will end after Brexit, and have said it could be replaced with a so-called “labour mobility” framework.
But the committee report said that the lack of detail over migration stood in “stark contrast” to areas like customs, trade and security, where significant proposals have already been put before Parliament.
The MPs report said that the shortening time scale meant that the Government should consider implementing migration measures to allow the UK to continue to participate in the single market while it puts any new immigration scheme in place.
And they urged ministers to scrap the controversial target of reducing net migration to below 100,000.
Committee chair Yvette Cooper said that despite being one of the central issues of the referendum, the Government had failed to build any consensus on future migration policy.
“That is deeply disappointing, and it has left a vacuum – and it’s really important that people don’t exploit that again,” the Labour MP said.
“The misinformation and tensions over immigration during the referendum campaign were deeply damaging and divisive.
“It is essential that does not happen again, and those who exploited concerns over immigration during the referendum need to be more honest and more responsible when it is debated in the run-up to the final deal.
She added: “We are calling for a measured debate and consultation on immigration options instead.
“We found there were a much wider range of possible precedents and options for immigration reform than people often talk about – including options that could be combined with participation in the single market – that we believe the Government should be exploring further now.”