Repeal of the main retained EU law relating to free movement etc

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 26th February 2019.

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Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration) 9:25 am, 26th February 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Stringer.

This clause—this entire Bill, for that matter—puts the cart before the horse. Labour has been clear that our immigration policy is subordinate to our economic and trade policy. The Government’s position on Brexit, on the other hand, has been consistent in just one way: they insist on putting immigration ahead of our economic needs. We simply cannot support measures that would cause our country to be worse off.

It is a fact that freedom of movement ends when we leave the single market, but the Prime Minister herself has recognised the need for frictionless trade and has been told categorically by the EU that that cannot be maintained without a close relationship with the single market. If the Government cannot yet be clear about what the final agreement will be on our relationship with the single market, this makes no sense. Until the Government get their ducks in a row, we simply cannot vote for such a measure.

The Bill also fails to address two major questions facing Parliament. The first is how we will protect the rights of the 3.5 million people who have already moved to the UK and made their lives here. On Second Reading, the Home Secretary said,

“my message to the 3.5 million EU citizens already living here has also been very clear. I say, ‘You are an incredibly valued and an important part of our society; we want you to stay. Deal or no deal, that view will not change.’”—[Official Report, 28 January 2019; Vol. 653, c. 507.]

Yet the Government have made no provisions in the Bill to protect those citizens.