Author: Nigel Morris
Theresa May’s silence on her plans for immigration after Brexit has created a “vacuum” which could fuel tensions over the issue in the run-up to Britain’s departure from the European Union, MPs have warned. The Commons home affairs committee expressed dismay that the government still had not produced firm proposals for immigration more than two years after it was at the heart of the EU referendum campaign. Ministers should have used the period to take the heat out of the subject by building consensus on the operation of Britain’s border controls after Brexit, the MPs said.
‘Missed opportunity’ Accusing the government of a “regrettable missed opportunity”, they said immigration policy risks “being caught up in a rushed and highly politicised debate” ahead of a parliamentary vote on any withdrawal agreement with the EU.
There was barely any mention of the issue in Mrs May’s Chequers proposals for Britain’s future trade links with the bloc, and moves to set out immigration plans have been repeatedly delayed.
In a new report, the all-party committee urged the government not to make hitting Mrs May’s net migration target a factor in designing a new visa regime.
Calling for an “honest and open” debate, it argued that the government would find it difficult to retain close economic links with Brussels unless it strikes a deal giving British nationals have the same rights to work in the bloc as EU workers have to come to the UK.