A leaked plan has surfaced recently regarding the treatment of Europeans after Brexit. This plan suggest that the government would not necessarily takes a “soft” or “hard” Brexit approach but would rather confront it with an equivalent of driving on the wrong side of the road.
Essentially, those responsible for issuing this 82-page proposal which is dated August 2017, wants to completely sever ties between the UK and EU.
There is some compromise in this paper. It suggests that different rules should be applied to EU citizens compared to other migrants. The full bureaucracy of the Points Based System and Appendix FM for family members would not be brought immediately.
On the other hand, it would completely destroy the notion of free movement of labour. The paper is very explicit about ending the rights based approach. EU citizens arriving after Brexit would have to show passports and would have to apply for a short two-year visa for low skilled jobs; would also be subjected to an income test; would be prevented from bringing some family members and would be committing a criminal offence if they worked or resided in breach of the new tighter rules. Employers, landlords, banks and other institutions would have to carry out the good ol’ papers please approach. The hostile environment Theresa May is dreaming daily would come to fruition and would unfortunately apply to EU citizens.
There are four major problems with this approach. The most obvious one would be the economic impact and it would make the UK a less attractive destination for migrants (whether skilled or not). Of course, this is the whole point. The Home Office only cares and worries about protection and the lower tax intake, international relations deterioration is considered to be a “worthy sacrifice for the greater good”. However, what would happen to those sectors who are very dependent on low skilled workers, such as agriculture, labour and etc? It is apparent that besides the politicians the public is holding onto its nationalistic ideals of a country that no longer exists and it is now as it always was an island.
With the pound devalued, the UK economy is growing slower than any other in the EU and only short-term visas explicitly based on privilege not rights on offer, it is doubtful that migrants would see things the same way.
The next problem is that it would be eventually applied to British Citizens as well. The EU is not a pushover as recent talks showed and if the British government decides on strict terms for Europeans then the same will be done to British citizens living in the EU.
Next is that he proposal suggest implementation immediately after Brexit. This would make any status quo transitional arrangement with the EU impossible. This would be a very alarming and business, economy damaging decision.
Lastly, the proposal is based on provably incorrect assumptions. For example, the paper bemoans that there is “no limit” to supposed rights of supposedly infinitely extended family members under current free movement laws. In fact, the UK is only obliged to facilitate entry subject to national laws and can subject such family members to enhanced scrutiny. The paper suggests that current EU migrants do not make all UK residents richer, contrary to all the reputable evidence on this question.