Think tank reveals impact of a post-Brexit transitional period for immigration

by Ray Clancy on January 23, 2018

A British think tank is urging the government to reject the European Union’s demand to automatically allow European to have the chance to gain permanent settlement in the UK during a transition period.

According to think tank Migration Watch UK, the number of EU nationals arriving in the course of a two year post-Brexit transition period could total up to a million and 1.5 million, a pool of people over whom the UK would have no immigration control.

( Elnur/

Both the EU and British Government have indicated their support for a transition period following the UK’s formal departure from the EU in March 2019. The Prime Minister Theresa May has previously said the implementation period should last for around two years, potentially taking it to spring 2021, while the EU’s present draft negotiating directive states that the transition period after Brexit should not last beyond 31 December 2020.

In a new research paper looking at the implications for immigration after Brexit, Migration Watch UK says that if the UK were to concede on this critical issue, EU nationals arriving before the end of the period would be able to remain in the UK for the five years necessary to become eligible for permanent settlement.

Those with this status could then be joined by direct family members, including elderly dependent relatives, future children and partners who were not EU citizens.

The paper bases its estimates on different methods of assessing past trends. The figure of half a million a year is based on the number of EU citizens who, in recent years, have applied at a Job Centre for a National Insurance Number. In the past some of these have been temporary migrants who have stayed for less than a year but a larger proportion of them might well stay on if the prize was a right to permanent settlement in the UK.

Furthermore, it points out that, as the Home Affairs Committee noted in July 2016, experience has shown that an imminent tightening of immigration rules can prompt a surge of new applications. These estimates do not factor in those who might arrive should there be a last minute rush.

‘The Government should stand firm on its position that the specified date in the provisional agreement on citizens’ rights should be the formal date of Brexit, the end of March 2019. If it agrees that those arriving from the EU up until the end of the transition period should be able to begin accruing time towards settled status then up to a million more EU nationals could gain the opportunity to do so provided that they register with authorities following arrival,’ the report says.

‘The bulk of those arriving would likely be Eastern Europeans who, historically, have put a relatively greater burden on the UK Exchequer. During a three year transition period, the total number of arrivals could reach up to 1.5 million. They would also have and maintain rights to be joined by family members, such as elderly dependent relatives and children, including family members from outside the EU. All this despite the fact that they would have no treaty rights as the UK would have left the EU before their arrival,’ it adds.

‘This EU demand is absolutely absurd. We will have left the EU. That must mean that EU citizens who arrive after our departure should no longer enjoy treaty rights that derive from our membership,’ said Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of Migration Watch UK.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Werner January 31, 2018 at 6:35 pm

For Europe’s sake Brexit will happen, the UK has been hindering the commun market for years, lets get over it. The EU will dictate the conditions of Brexit, the UK is no condition with the current government to take its own decisions. Trade is the main interest of the UK Brexit, the EU will decide how this will happen depending the UK’s handling of Brexit.


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