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Javid: free movement could be replaced with “labour mobility” for executives

Javid: free movement could be replaced with “labour mobility” for executives

The right of free movement for EU migrants could be replaced with something more like the arrangements making travel easier for Canadian business people, the Home Secretary has said. Sajid Javid told the Home Affairs committee of MPs today that free movement will end after Brexit, “full stop”, and repeatedly mentioned the immigration components of an Canadian-EU trade deal — limited to “labour mobility” for professionals — as an example of what could replace it.

Asked about post-Brexit immigration policy, Javid told MPs:

The Canada-EU trade agreement, CETA, includes labour mobility provisions which apply to the UK today. I think that’s a good example of the kind of mobility that you can have in a trade agreement.

The immigration aspects of CETA are “designed to enhance the ability of our business persons to move across our borders”, as the Canadian government puts it. Helpful as that may be to firms, it would represent a radical change from the existing system.

Javid said that there will no longer be an “automatic right to hop on a plane or a ferry and come to work in the UK”. He went on:

When we talk about ending freedom of movement, we mean really ending it… it will be ended, full stop, in every way, no derivative, no back doors, nothing.

His comments suggest a victory for the “level playing field” approach to post-Brexit immigration policy. EU citizens would have no special entitlement to move to the UK to live or work, beyond the fairly limited rights that might be negotiated as part of a traditional free trade agreement. The Home Secretary made clear that the “labour mobility” on offer to the EU would also be up for grabs in trade negotiations with other countries.

I think it’s important that as a country we are open to talent from across the world… there’s no magical reason it should be only with the EU.

Javid also confirmed that the long awaited white paper on immigration would not be published until after the Migration Advisory Committee puts out its report on post-Brexit immigration policy in September, but that the separate Brexit white paper to be published on Thursday 12 July would touch on the issue.

On the position of EU citizens already here, the Home Secretary admitted for the first time that a large number of people could fail to apply for “settled status” in time.

No matter how much effort we make, there will be people — and it might be in the thousands — through no fault of their own who fail to register.

Javid promised a “common sense approach” to people who fail to register, provided they had a good reason. The fact remains, however, that ultimately those who fail to acquire settled status will end up unlawfully resident.

Other outlets picked up on the Home Secretary’s wary attitude to the official migration target, which commits the UK government to reducing net migration to below 100,000 a year. This, he told MPs, is merely an “ambition”. By contrast, the “objective” of the post-Brexit system would merely be to reduce immigration to “sustainable levels”.


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