The deadline of the 29 March 2019 for Brexit creeps ever closer and on a daily basis we can all speculate whether we are heading for a “no-deal” Brexit.
So what would that mean for checks on EU Nationals working in the UK? This question is vitally important for thousands of EU National workers in the UK and is exacerbated by Theresa May’s comments that the free movement of people will end.
Unfortunately, we are getting a mixed message from the government. Before this article, we had been preparing a piece on the ‘rigorous checks’ that would need to be undertaken on EU Nationals’ right to work in the UK, following the Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes’ comments to the Home Affairs Committee.
However, following the dismay of businesses and the threat of widespread discrimination, Ms Nokes was instructed to appear before MPs to explain the policy on EU Nationals’ right to work in the UK in the event of a “no-deal Brexit”. During which, she retracted her comments and stated that employers would not be required to carry out any additional checks on EU Nationals eligibility to work in the UK. All that will be required will be to check their passports and ID. This is in line with Ms Nokes’ boss, Sajid Javid’s statement that businesses would not be expected to do anything different than they do at present.
Ms Nokes did allude to ‘further clarity’ that would be forthcoming ‘in due course’ and that this would all be clarified under the proposed Immigration Bill, of which no details were given. Mr Javid also stated that there may need to be some form of transition period.
We tend to agree with Yvette Cooper, Chair of Home Affairs, who stated that they were “none the wiser” about what employers would or would not have to do in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.
We are also in agreement with Stuart McDonald’s (SNP) statement that EU Nationals do not have any clarity on their rights. This is despite Ms Nokes’ statement that EU Nationals are part of our country and community.
Commentators have questioned whether the government has a grasp on these basic and yet fundamental and potentially life-altering questions. It appears to us that this is a moveable feast at the moment and will likely change once we receive the ‘further clarity’ that Ms Nokes alludes to.