1 July 2016

Brexit can't affect freedom of movement

The Blog


Contrary to much hysteria in the media and stock market, Britain has not actually left the European Union.


It's not even clear how Britain will leave the EU or how long it will take. Many fear for freedom of movement of people after this referendum and UK withdrawal from the EU. However, the effect on freedom of movement will in fact be up to the negotiations between the UK and EU.

Students and workers traveling between the EU and the UK will not have their travel plans affected in any way even after Britain's total withdrawal from the EU. To quote a government research summary made available the day after the referendum:
... the UK and other European governments would likely favour a solution that protects the immigration rights of people already exercising their free movement rights, given the widespread disruption and administrative burden that retrospective changes could cause.
This means the British state is fully aware of the chaos that could be caused by halting the freedom of movement already being exercised by millions of people. All will remain in place, without being threatened by Britain's exit from the EU.

Britain's withdrawal from the EU may in fact open up more opportunities for migration by Commonwealth citizens. According to the government research summary, "gaining greater control over EEA immigration as a result of leaving the EU could (or should) lead to enhanced scope to prioritise Commonwealth immigration". This is similar to the enhanced scope to pursue trade with countries outside the European Union after leaving the EU.

While freedom of movement for existing residents was not a concern to Brexit campaigners, migration was a key issue, viewed as a source of social unrest and potential influx of terrorist agents from war-torn regions.


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