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Immigration Bill back on as Supreme Court recalls Parliament

Immigration Bill back on as Supreme Court recalls Parliament

This morning the Supreme Court handed down its judgment on whether the Prime Minister suspending Parliament for five weeks at a crucial time in the Brexit saga was legal. As Colin put it, the government “could not have lost more comprehensively”. I’ve covered some of the highlights elsewhere and the full judgment is here: R (Miller) v The Prime Minister [2019] UKSC 41.

MPs are even now taking selfies in the House of Commons and the Speaker has said that Parliament will formally resume its work tomorrow morning. Whether this will affect the course of Brexit remains to be seen. The fundamentals have not changed: this is the same Parliament that has been chronically unable to pick a Brexit outcome (the choices still being deal, no deal or revoke).

There is at least one practical result of all this. The Immigration Bill is back. Prorogation, the particular form of suspension used, meant that it and most other pending legislation died on the vine and would have to start from scratch when Parliament returned. The effect of the Supreme Court finding that the prorogation was never legally valid is that these bills are actually alive and kicking, according to assorted experts on parliamentary procedure (see below), the Public Law Project and the House of Commons Library.

The main purpose of the bill is to formally end the free movement rights of EU citizens. However, even if the bill is passed any time soon, this element will not be implemented for some time. After much to-ing and fro-ing over the summer, the government has confirmed that free movement rules will remain largely in place until at least 2021.

The bill also guarantees the unique rights of Irish citizens, explicitly exempting them from the need to have leave to enter or remain in the UK.

CJ McKinney

CJ is Free Movement's deputy editor. He's here to make sure that the website is on top of everything that happens in the world of immigration law, whether by writing articles, commissioning them out or considering submissions. When not writing about immigration law, CJ covers wider legal affairs at the website Legal Cheek and on Twitter: follow him @mckinneytweets.

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