Brandon Lewis, Immigration Minister, Announces Change to Government Policy on Freedom of Movement

Brandon Lewis, the Immigration Minister, has said that EU freedom of movement will end in March 2019, just hours after Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said that there would be no “cliff edge”. Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had also indicated last week that there would be no sudden end to freedom of movement.

Lewis, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, said that freedom of movement would end at the moment that the UK left the EU, saying “we’re very clear that free movement ends when we leave”. The Government’s change of policy is expected to concern business groups including the CBI, who have been supporting an extension to the freedom of movement rules.

Earlier today, Amber Rudd, had announced that the Migration Advisory Committee would be asked to report on EU migration and its implications for the UK economy. The Government said that this report, which was welcomed by the CBI, would still be commissioned.

Diane Abbot, the Shadow Home Secretary, welcomed the report but criticised the view of Brandon Lewis and said that no changes should be announced until the report had been completed. She said:

“There is far too much heat and not enough light about immigration, so any truly objective and well-informed analysis must be welcome”.