UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered preparations to be made to end free movement of people with the European Union when Britain is due to leave the bloc on October 31st.
Recently appointed by incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Patel has sent her senior officials to former British colony Singapore to see how their border infrastructure operates as her department prepares to put “rocket boosters” on preparations for a no-deal Brexit, including the end of free movement.
The European Union sees “free movement of people” as one of its key achievements, although passport-free travel within its Schengen Area has been suspended in all but nameby several member-states since the height of the migrant crisis. The United Kingdom never joined the Schengen Area, it is party to the free movement regime more broadly, with around half a billion European Union residents having full rights to migrate to the country on a permanent basis in unlimited numbers and effectively unvetted.
Amid allegations of foot-dragging by senior civil servants, Tory Home Secretary Patel is determined to end free movement via a ‘statutory instrument’, a change in the law that only requires approval from MPs after it has come into force.
This is a change from her predecessor, Sajid Javid, who had proposed an entire immigration bill to cement new border structures before the UK left the EU, however amid claims that ministers and senior civil servants were proposing to delay any such bills from passing, thereby jeopardizing the Brexit date, Patel has opted to utilize the statutory instrument instead.
Senior civil servants have argued for a phased introduction of the immigration limitations, however, the Home Secretary has insisted that the civil service has only until the October deadline to finalize preparations. It is with this in mind that she has sent her senior officials to Singapore to examine their border security infrastructure to see how similar systems can be utilized by the UK.
According to a report by the Mail on Sunday, Ms. Patel has insisted on daily updates about the progress of these officials in Singapore.
One source close to the Home Secretary was reported as saying “Priti wants to put rocket boosters under the Home Office’s stance. She thinks Saj did a great job before her but with a new Prime Minister and new priorities, changes needed to be made.
‘For a start, that means properly preparing for No Deal – it’s clear those at the top of Whitehall had no intention of preparing for No Deal.”