The government has pledged to end the free movement of people between the EU and UK and implement a new immigration system by March 2019, when the UK leaves the European Union.
Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis made the commitment as he announced the government had commissioned a”detailed assessment” of the costs and benefits of EU migrants to the UK. The report is due to be published in September 2018, six months before the UK is due to leave the EU.
Critics of the plan say the assessment should have been commissioned as soon as the government decided on its plan for a hard Brexit, and fear the findings will come too late for the UK to change course.
The CBI warned that businesses “urgently” needed to know the direction of future British immigration policies, both for any “transitional” period after March 2019 and beyond. The uncertainty around immigration and future UK_EU trade relations has already caused businesses to lose investment.
When discussing the issues the UK could face with a drastic drop in immigration numbers, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:
“We will ensure we continue to attract those who benefit us economically, socially and culturally.
“But, at the same time, our new immigration system will give us control of the volume of people coming here – giving the public confidence we are applying our own rules on who we want to come to the UK and helping us to bring down net migration to sustainable levels.”
The Conservatives have failed to meet their own manifesto pledges on immigration every year they have been in government since 2010.
Immigration was a major factor in the Brexit vote last year, after a number of politicians, including current cabinet members Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, lied to the British public about the number of migrants coming to the UK and the future of Turkey within the European Union. Neither have faced a reprimand for pushing untruths about immigration, NHS funding, and other key parts of the debate.