Editorial

Post-Brexit immigration system just won’t be ready, warns think tank

Main reason we’ll keep freedom of movement? We won’t have the tech ready to do anything else, says the Institute for Government

Posted 9 May 2017 by

The UK could be forced to keep free movement of people for several years after we leave the EU – because we don’t have the time to build any robust enough immigration system inside the two year deadline.

So argues think tank the Institute for Government (IfG) in its new report on the challenges of the government’s decision to trigger Article 50, Implementing Brexit: Immigration.

The London-based think tank thinks its work “spells out the enormity of the task”, and finds that successful implementation of a new immigration system by April 2019 is unfeasible.

That has big implications not just for government, but also employers, landlords and providers of public services, it warns.

Luckily, it claims, unlike other areas impacted by Brexit, immigration policy can be decided by the UK alone – so there is no “cliff-edge” in prospect.

The report recommends that the government therefore just keeps the current system until a replacement is ready, !avoiding multiple changes”.

On the other hand, the report also says the “existing process for registering EU nationals is not fit for purpose”.

It says that’s a lot more problematic – and if the residency system isn’t overhauled as a matter of urgency, HMG could need up to 5,000 extra civil servants to process applications and deal with the “large number of expected appeals” it says should be expected.