The government could bring forward a key immigration bill to bolster preparations for a no-deal Brexit

Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd leaves 10 Downing Street, London, December 5, 2017.

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Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd leaves 10 Downing Street, London, December 5, 2017.
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Hannah McKay/Reuters

  • Amber Rudd is reportedly under pressure to publish the Brexit immigration bill sooner than planned.
  • The bill – which will propose what Britain’s post-Brexit immigration policy should look like – isn’t expected until the end of the year.
  • However, the Home Secretary’s Cabinet colleagues believe the bill is key to ensuring Britain is prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

LONDON – Home Secretary Amber Rudd could bring forward a key Brexit immigration bill which deals with the rights of EU nationals as a Cabinet row over Britain’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit escalates.

The Home Secretary is reportedly under pressure from Cabinet colleagues to bring forward a bill – not currently due in parliament until the end of the year – which details plans to register the 3 million EU nationals currently living in the UK and sets out the UK’s post-Brexit immigration policy.

Brexiteers say passing the bill is vital for the UK’s preparations to leave the EU without a deal – something they believe is key to strengthening the UK’s negotiating position, Politico reported.

Some of those ministers reportedly believe that Rudd – who campaigned for Remain – is delaying the bill in order to scupper no-deal preparations and ensure it is not a viable option when the UK leaves the EU.

It reflects a growing row in the cabinet over the viability of a no-deal scenario, which would see Britain crash out of the EU on March 29, 2019 with no withdrawal agreement. If the UK does fail to negotiate a deal by that point, it would need to have an immigration policy in place much earlier than expected.

It would also see the UK default to WTO trading terms, which most economists say would have a highly damaging impact on the economy through an array of damaging tariff and non-tariff barriers on UK exporters.

The FT reported last month that the government had delayed the immigration white paper to wait until the conclusion of the Migration Advisory Committee’s report into the benefits of European migration to the UK, which will be published in September.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “We are confident that our immigration systems will be ready for Brexit and have been working to develop the details of the settlement scheme for the three million EU citizens already in the U.K. – as well as the registration of new EU arrivals after March 2019.

“We will publish further details of this over the coming months, but the Government is currently focused on successfully negotiating the terms of the Implementation Period with the EU. The Immigration Bill will be introduced when Parliamentary time allows.”