UK immigration and Brexit High Court loss for UK government

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The High Court has ruled that parliament has to vote on whether the UK can start proceedings to leave the European Union. The latest twist in Britain’s ‘Brexit’ saga means that government plans to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty – to start formal negotiations to exit the EU – are subject to parliamentary approval. This may very well mean that UK Immigration free movement rights for EU workers will last for longer.

In the aftermath of the ruling, UK Prime Minister, Theresa May said that ‘the referendum in June, along with existing ministerial powers, mean that MPs are not required to vote.’ However, campaigners labelled May’s comments ‘unconstitutional.’

Following the High Court’s decision, which comes after a three-day hearing that took place in October, the UK government immediately said it would appeal the ruling. It’s expected that a further hearing will take place next month (December). On Monday, 7 November, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union a statement defending the Government’s actions on Brexit.

However, an official spokesman for Theresa May said: “The government has no intention of letting the judgement derail Article 50 or the timetable set out to start the process. We are determined to press ahead with our plan.”

Sanwar Ali, Editor of reviews Brexit and implications for UK Immigration Controls:

On 23 June 2016 Britain decided to leave the EU. This came as a surprise to many people. Currently EU and EEA nationals benefit from free movement. They do not come under the restrictive UK immigration controls such as the Tier 2 sponsorship licence scheme and Tier 2 visa scheme. Free migration of EU citizens from the former Eastern Bloc Countries such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, etc helped the UK to achieve high economic growth. Because both sides in the EU referendum misled voters over Brexit many people did not actually know what to expect from Brexit.

Brexit has resulted in a significant reduction in the value of the pound against currencies around the World. It seems very possible that there will be an economic slowdown due to Brexit. However, some have said that there may be opportunities in future outside the EU.

Some have compared the Donald Trump Presidential victory in the US to an US version of Brexit. It seems that many people are fed up and are looking for change. Predicting the future is difficult. It will be years before we know what the full effects of Brexit will be and how it will effect immigration into the UK.

Reaction to the High Court Brexit ruling

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, called for the government to “bring its negotiating terms to parliament without delay.” He added that when it comes to the terms of Brexit there needs to be “transparency and accountability to parliament.”

Nigel Farage, the ‘interim’ leader of UKIP, said that the High Court’s judgement will spark fears of ‘betrayal’ among the 51.9% of voters who backed exiting the EU in June’s referendum. Farage also voiced concerns over what he describes as a “half Brexit.”

Sources say that failure to overturn the High Court’s judgement could result in delays spanning ‘months and months’ because of parliamentary red tape. However, the Prime Minister has insisted that Article 50 will be formally triggered by the end of March, 2017.

In a statement outside the High Court, investment manager Gina Miller, who brought the case as part of a group called People’s Challenge, said: “The government should make the wise decision of not appealing. The result today is about all of us. It’s not about me or my team. It’s about our United Kingdom and all our futures.”

Despite Miller urging the government not to appeal, a spokesman for the government said that the decision would be ‘contested in the Supreme Court. He said: “The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by Act of Parliament. And the government is determined to respect the result of the referendum. We will appeal this judgement.”

In court, government legal representatives put forward the case of ‘prerogative powers’ being a ‘legitimate way of giving effect to the will of the people.’ However, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, stated: “The government does not have power under the Crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the UK to withdraw from the European Union.”

Describing the case as a ‘pure question of law,’ Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd said: “The court is not concerned with and does not express any view about the merits of leaving the European Union: that is a political issue.”

In response to the ruling, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox expressed the government’s ‘disappointment’ when addressing the House of Commons, but stated that the government intends to honour the outcome of June’s referendum.

Fox said: “There will be numerous opportunities for the House to examine and discuss what the government is negotiating. When we are clear about the position we will adopt, then Article 50 will be triggered but, given the nature of the judgement this morning, we will now have to await the government’s appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Nigel Farage retorted: “We are heading for a half Brexit. I worry that a betrayal may be near at hand... I now fear that every attempt will be made to block or delay the triggering of Article 50. If this is so, they have no idea of the level of public anger they will provoke.”

Meanwhile, Corbyn said: “This ruling underlines the need for the government to bring its negotiating terms to parliament without delay. Labour respects the decision of the British people to leave the European Union. But there must be transparency and accountability to parliament on the terms of Brexit.”

However, Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and an avid support of remaining within the EU, said: “Ultimately, the British people voted for a departure, but not for a destination, which is why what really matters is allowing them to vote again on the final deal, giving them the chance to say no to an irresponsible hard Brexit that risks our economy and our jobs.”

Brexit defeat and UK immigration

In light of the High Court’s ruling, questions will be asked about UK immigration policy and how the brakes being put on Brexit will affect EU migrants coming to Britain. If the Government loses it’s appeal it seems likely that EU migrants will enjoy free movement rights to the UK for longer.

Theresa May’s plans to trigger Article 50 in March 2017 may be delayed for some time. Britain’s exit from the EU is estimated to take at least two years; months of parliamentary wrangling may very well delay Britain’s exit from the EU for longer.

In the build up to Brexit and negotiation with the EU Theresa May has prioritised UK immigration controls over issues relating to access to the EU’s free market. Who knows. If Brexit has to be debated in Parliament due to the High Court ruling perhaps this will lead to a “soft Brexit” and more liberal immigration controls on EU citizens than would otherwise be the case.