The Home Affairs Select Committee has published a report today that criticises the Home Office's preparations for the UK's departure from the EU. Below we respond to a number of their concerns.
The Committee says that "insufficient resources have been allocated and insufficient staff are planned" to cope with the changes after we leave the EU.
It is ridiculous to suggest that we are not preparing sufficiently for leaving the EU. It is precisely for this reason that we have already invested £60 million in 2017/18, are recruiting an additional 1,500 staff across the immigration and borders system and are well advanced in the development of a new scheme to give EU citizens currently in the right to stay after Brexit. We will keep staffing under review as negotiations progress but will always ensure we have the resources and workforce we need to run an effective system.
The Committee says that "an already overstretched Border Force does not have the capacity to deliver additional checks at the border by March 2019".
Border Force already check 100 per cent of passengers arriving on scheduled flights, regardless of nationality, and this will continue after we have left the EU. Ahead of Brexit, there will be an additional 300 frontline Border Force officers to allow us to deliver training to our existing workforce, in preparation for any future arrangements required for EU exit at the border. The need for additional recruitment will be kept under review.
EU citizens in the UK
The Committee say that "delays to the Immigration white paper and lack of clarity over the Government's intentions on immigration are creating anxiety for EU citizens in the UK".
It is wrong to say that there is uncertainty for EU citizens living in the UK. The agreement reached with the EU in December safeguards their rights and enables them to stay in the UK by applying for settled status. The application scheme will be digital, streamlined and user-friendly and we plan to launch it on a voluntary basis in the second half of the year. We will publish further details in the coming months before it goes live.
Future immigration system
The Committee says that "delays to the Immigration white paper and lack of clarity over the Government's intentions on immigration are creating…uncertainty for UK businesses".
We are considering a range of options for the future immigration system that will ensure that we are in control of our borders and managing migration at a sustainable level in the national interest, while continuing to attract the brightest and best . We will set out initial plans in the coming months. But the Prime Minister has already been clear there will be an Implementation Period of around two years after we leave the EU to avoid a cliff edge for businesses. During this period, EU citizens will be able to come and live and work in the UK, but there will be a registration scheme in preparation for our future immigration system.
We have been consulting extensively with a variety of stakeholders including businesses, NHS leaders and universities about the future immigration system. We have also asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee to assess the economic and social impact of EU citizens in all parts of the UK. They are due to report back in September 2018.
In December, we reached an agreement with the EU on citizens' rights and our priority now is to agree the detail of the implementation period.