Author: Gary Gibbon
If you were holding your breath for the immigration white paper best to breathe out now. Much delayed and much anticipated, it seems that the wait is nowhere near over.
Despite an Instruction from Theresa May to get it out before the summer recess, Sajid Javid seems to be of the view that that’s too quick. He will, as many suggested should happen, wait for the Migration Advisory Committee report due in September. And then he might wait a little longer.
It’s suggested you could get a few piecemeal bits of reform first (how EU citizens get to remain in the UK might come in a couple of days time). The Bill itself outlining the shape of post-Brexit immigration policy is seen by some as a card the UK needs to play in the negotiations on a future relationship. To the annoyance of David Davis and others, those discussions look to some like they could take part during the transition period and not much will necessarily be tidied up by the end of this year as the withdrawal agreement is ratified.
For some that opens up the alarming possibility that the government could be thinking of conceding ground on immigration policy as part of the negotiation on a future relationship. One senior Vote Leave figure believes that the government’s chief negotiator is working towards a plan that ties Britain into something that looks an awful lot like Freedom of Movement beside a plan to stay in something a lot like the Customs Union and the Single Market for goods. Theresa May has, of course, ruled that out but some Vote Leave veterans aren’t her biggest admirers.