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EU citizens in UK told they won’t face new employment checks in major Brexit climbdown

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Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes leaves Downing Street on July 17, 2018 in London, England
Immigration
Minister Caroline Nokes leaves Downing Street on July 17, 2018 in
London, England

Getty / Dan
Kitwood


  • The UK government is forced into a climbdown after a minister
    wrongly tells MPs that employers will be expected to introduce
    new checks on EU citizens under a no-deal Brexit.
  • Caroline Nokes claimed on Tuesday that employers would be
    forced to differentiate between EU citizens arriving before and
    after the UK left the EU next year, as those arriving after would
    not have the same rights.
  • But in an email seen by Business Insider, the Home Office
    confirmed that employers would not be expected to carry out such
    checks.
  • A spokesman for the3million, a campaign group for EU citizens
    in the UK, told Business Insider that it remained “concerned”
    about the government’s plan to create “two classes of EU citizens
    with potentially two different sets of rights which might make
    employers and landlords cautious about long-term commitments.”

LONDON — The UK government was yesterday forced into a major
climbdown after the immigration minister wrongly claimed that
employers would be forced to introduce stringent new checks on EU
citizens in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Caroline Nokes told MPs on Tuesday that employers would be
expected to check whether EU nationals have the legal right to
work in the UK after Brexit, as those arriving after Brexit in
March next year would be ineligible to work if the UK in a
no-deal scenario, although she was unable to explain how
employers could carry out such checks.

But in an email seen by Business Insider, a Home Office
spokesperson told a stakeholders’ group representing EU citizens
on Wednesday that employers would not be forced to establish
whether EU citizens had arrived before or after Brexit in March
next year.

“Employers will not be expected to differentiate between resident
EU citizens and those arriving after exit,” said the email.

The Home Office said that employers already need to carry out
right-to-work checks on EU citizens, as they do on all
prospective employees, and said EU citizens will be required to
evidence their right to work by showing a passport or national
identity card.

The government’s clarification reflects the fact it would be
almost impossible for employers to legally distinguish between EU
citizens who had the right to work and those who didn’t have the
right to work because they had arrived after Brexit.

That is because the vast majority of EU citizens — even those who
arrived before Brexit and have the right to remain permanently —
would not have had their legal status confirmed by March next
year, as the Home Office has barely begun to roll out its
“settled status” registration scheme.

Those arriving after in the event of a no-deal would not have the
same automatic right to remain, with Caroline Nokes confirming on
Tuesday that the Home Office would end free movement if the UK
left without a deal, but it would not be the responsibility of
employers to check that information.

‘A total surprise’


Jeremy Corbyn Brexit
Anti-Brexit
protestors

Leon Neal/Getty
Images


A spokesman for the3million, a campaign group for EU citizens in
the UK, told Business Insider that it remained “concerned” about
the government’s plan to create “two classes of EU citizens with
potentially two different sets of rights which might make
employers and landlords cautious about long-term commitments.”

He said that the government’s pledge to end free movement under a
no-deal Brexit had come as a “surprise” as it would mean that EU
citizens in the UK had no legal basis to work and live there.

“Over the last months the UK Government has been reluctant to
provide any detail on what will happen to the citizens’ rights
for the 3.6 million EU citizens in case of no deal Brexit,” said
the statement.

“It came as a total surprise to us on Tuesday when immigration
minister Caroline Nokes announced that Freedom of Movement will
end on March 29th 2019 in case of a no-deal Brexit.

“This has the potential of plunging 3.6 million EU citizens
directly into the hostile environment by leaving them without any
documentation to prove their right to live and work in the UK
during the Settled Status application period from March 2019 to
June 2021.”

The Home Office’s “clarification”

To members of the User Group

I have been asked to confirm the current position on EU
citizens’ rights and
right to work checks.

We will protect EU citizens’ rights when we leave the EU, in
either a deal or no deal scenario, as the Prime Minister has made
clear. We are considering a number of options for the unlikely
event that we reach March 2019 without a
deal, and will
set out more information shortly.

Employers already need to carry out right to work checks on
EU citizens, as they do with all prospective employees. That will
not change next March in the event we leave the EU without a
deal. EU citizens will continue to be able to evidence their
right to work by showing a passport or national identity card.
Employers will not be expected to differentiate between resident
EU citizens and those arriving after exit.

When we leave the EU we will end free movement and we will
bring in a new immigration system which considers people on
skills, rather than nationality. We will publish a White Paper on
the future immigration system later this year.

Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain’s departure from the EU, direct from Business Insider’s political reporters. Join here.

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