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UK plans to end EU freedom of movement immediately in no-deal #Brexit

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Britain said on Monday (19 August) it would end European Union freedom of movement rules immediately after it leaves the bloc on 31 October, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country would not be hostile to immigration, writes Kylie MacLellan.

Under Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, the government had said only that if Britain left the EU without a transition deal it would aim to end free movement “as soon as possible”.

Johnson, who took office last month, has promised to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.

“Freedom of movement as it currently stands will end on 31 October when the UK leaves the EU, and after Brexit the government will introduce a new, fairer immigration system that prioritises skills and what people can contribute to the UK, rather than where they come from,” a spokesman for Britain’s interior ministry, the Home Office, said in a statement.

Johnson’s spokeswoman said further details on the changes to freedom of movement were being worked on and would be set out shortly but would include tougher criminality checks.

“What we are going to do is leave the EU and that means that legally all those powers revert to the UK...That does not mean that we are going to stop anybody coming into this country, it doesn’t mean that we are going to become remotely hostile to immigration or to immigrants,” Johnson told BBC Radio Cornwall.

“What it does mean is that immigration into the UK will be democratically controlled and we will be producing an Australian-style points-based system to do it.”

Adam Marshall, director general at the British Chambers of Commerce, said businesses had planned on the basis of no-deal guidance set out by the Home Office seven months ago.

“Now, with weeks to go, hints that it’s all up in the air again. Firms need clarity and consistency to prepare for change,” he said on Twitter.

The Home Office said there would be no change to planned rules for EU citizens and their families already living in Britain by the end of October, who would still have until at least the end of December 2020 to apply to Britain’s EU Settlement Scheme.

No one eligible for settled status would be barred from re-entering Britain when free movement ends, the Home Office said.

Joe Owen, programme director at the Institute for Government think tank, said the planned change was “close to impossible” on a practical level as it would require designing, legislating for and rolling out a new system in just over two months. It would also leave millions of EU citizens in limbo, he said.

“There would be no way for employers to distinguish between those EU citizens who have lived and worked in the UK for decades, but are yet to get settled status, and those who arrive in the days after a no-deal Brexit without a visa or permission to work,” he said.

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Brexit tensions are a test for Europe, says French minister

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French Junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune speaks during a press conference to outline France's strategy for the deployment of future COVID-19 vaccines, in Paris as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues in France, December 3, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool

French European Affairs Junior Minister Clement Beaune (pictured) said on Monday (14 June) that current tensions over Brexit between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government and the European Union were "a test" for Europe, Reuters.

The tensions between Britain and the EU threatened to overshadow the Group of Seven summit's conclusion on Sunday, with London accusing France of "offensive" remarks that Northern Ireland was not part of the United Kingdom. Read more.

"Mr Johnson thinks that you can sign deals with the Europeans and not respect them and that Europe will not react. It is a test for Europe," Beaune told Europe 1 radio.

"I am telling the British people, (Brexit) commitments must be respected... If it is not the case, retaliatory measures could be taken," Beaune added.

During talks with Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit, Johnson queried how the French president would react if Toulouse sausages could not be sold in Paris markets, echoing London's accusation that the EU is preventing sales of British chilled meats in Northern Ireland.

"In Northern Ireland there are sausage import problems... Why? Because when you leave the European Union, you have necessarily some (trade) barriers," Beaune said.

"I cannot tell the French or the Europeans that Britain can export via (EU member) Ireland some products such as meat without any control... That is what it is all about. Brexit has consequences."

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Ex-EU Brexit negotiator Barnier: UK reputation at stake in Brexit row

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Head of the Task Force for Relations with the UK, Michel Barnier attendsthe debate on EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement during the second day of a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium April 27, 2021. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

Michel Barnier, the European Union's former Brexit negotiator, said on Monday (14 June) that the reputation of the United Kingdom was at stake regarding tensions over Brexit.

EU politicians have accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of not respecting engagements made regarding Brexit. Growing tensions between Britain and the EU threatened to overshadow the Group of Seven summit on Sunday, with London accusing France of "offensive" remarks that Northern Ireland was not part of the UK. Read more

"The United Kingdom needs to pay attention to its reputation," Barnier told France Info radio. "I want Mr Johnson to respect his signature," he added.

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Germany’s Merkel urges pragmatic approach to Northern Ireland

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) called on Saturday for a “pragmatic solution” to disagreements over part of the Brexit deal that covers border issues with Northern Ireland, Reuters Read more.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain will do "whatever it takes" to protect its territorial integrity in a trade dispute with the European Union, threatening emergency measures if no solution was found.

The EU has to defend its common market, Merkel said, but on technical questions there could be a way forward in the dispute, she told a news conference during a Group of Seven leaders' summit.

"I have said that I favour a pragmatic solution for contractual agreements, because a cordial relationship is of utmost significance for Britain and the European Union," she said.

Referring to a conversation she had with U.S. President Joe Biden about geopolitical issues, Merkel said they agreed that Ukraine must continue to remain a transit country for Russian natural gas once Moscow completes the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea.

The $11 billion pipeline will carry gas to Germany directly, something Washington fears could undermine Ukraine and increase Russia's influence over Europe.

Biden and Merkel are due to meet in Washington on July 15, and the strain on bilateral ties caused by the project will be on the agenda.

The G7 sought on Saturday to counter China's growing influence by offering developing nations an infrastructure plan that would rival President Xi Jinping's multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative. L5N2NU045

Asked about the plan, Merkel said the G7 was not yet ready to specify how much financing could be made available.

“Our financing instruments often are not as quickly available as developing countries need them,” she said

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