You may have heard Theresa May's speech on the 17th of January. While most of the speech may have been unimportant, she did give a strong indication that the 'Free Movement of Persons' - a fundamental Pillar of EU Law - will not feature in any post-Brexit deal. It appears that, the Government is favouring the control of immigration, over the tragic effect a 'Hard Brexit' could have on our economy! Anyhow, she did somewhat soften her anti-immigration stance with her promise to continue attracting the 'brightest and best' to the UK and a general 'openness' to talent from abroad.
However, to me, the Prime Ministers stance seems quite confusing. On one hand there is a promise that the UK will once again become 'one of the best places in the world' for Science and Innovation, but on the other hand, the Government's constant restrictions and meddling with the Immigration Rules for students and innovators, has actually made the UK a less desirable location for top students. After all, why would anyone choose to go through a complicated visa process as ours, when other advanced nations are welcoming them in with open arms! I do really worry what the UK is going to be like in the next 10 or 15 years. We have already fallen behind other countries as a Technology and Science nation, and that slide is only likely to continue.
Further, while the end of free movement will have an adverse impact upon top students, the impact it will have upon UK businesses is even more worrying. The cease of free movement is likely to be a huge concern to a large proportion of UK businesses, especially those who rely on the movement of persons or goods for their businesses to operate. While the Government has shown an interest in protecting the larger industries, it is the small or medium sized businesses that I fear for the most.
Furthermore, worryingly for the somewhat three million EU nationals who have called the UK their home, the Government has again failed to reassure those citizens of their fate following the pulling out of the EU. The Prime Minister has yet to have made any promises to protect the rights of those people. While the "freezing” of free movement rights for people already in the UK to ensure the preservation of existing rights would be the fairest outcome, it remains unclear what solution the Government will find.
Let's wait and see how this situation unfolds. The triggering of Article 50 (the article that allows a Member State to withdraw from the EU) will take place in March 2017, meaning that the UK will likely get out of the EU by March 2019.
More to follow on this topic, so please check back regularly. Other immigration blogs will be added soon.