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UK's Home Secretary says freedom of movement with the EU will end immediately after Brexit

A spokesperson said free movement will end overnight on 31 October if a deal is not agreed upon.

Priti Patel
Priti Patel
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

THE UK’S HOME Secretary has said freedom of movement between the UK and the EU will end overnight on 31 October despite previous plans for a transition period. 

Under Theresa May’s government a “transitional period” was set to be introduced for a short period with May’s government saying free movement would end “as soon as possible”.

However, a spokesperson for Home Secretary Priti Patel today said “Freedom of movement as it currently stands will end on 31 October when the UK leaves the EU” and “that tougher criminality rules for people enter the UK” will also be introduced.

More than three million EU citizens living in the UK would be affected by the plans to be implemented immediately if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

They will be required to submit an application for settled status.

Irish citizens will continue to have free movement within the UK, however, under the Common Travel Area arrangement which predates both countries joining the EU. 

The latest move from Westminster has sparked criticism from those who say the latest commentary is “reckless” and “worrying”. 

Fine Gael Senator and spokesperson on European Affairs Neale Richmond said: “This would not affect Irish citizens, but it would have a major impact on people travelling to the UK from the rest of the EU.”

“This is certainly very worrying and slightly reckless commentary from the Home Secretary,” he added. 

He said he “certainly” didn’t expect the UK to ever back out of the Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement which predates the EU.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said he was confident the CTA would continue unchanged despite plans announced by the British government. 

“The UK and Ireland shares a common travel area giving citizens reciprocal rights to travel, work, access medical care and state supports in each other’s countries,” he said. 

“These arrangements predate EU membership and earlier this year both states signed a memorandum of understanding ensuring the arrangement continues.”

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Phone call

Earlier this evening, it was confirmed that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in a phonecall which lasted almost an hour. 

A statement confirmed the two premieres spoke and stated that the common travel area between Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be affected by the removal of the freedom of movement for EU citizens.

The Withdrawal Agreement was also discussed during the call with both sides remaining resolute in their respective positions. 

A spokesperson for Varadkar said he reinforced the EU’s position that the divorce deal is not up for renegotiation, while Johnson insisted the deal as it stands will not get through the House of Commons. 

With reporting from Orla Dwyer

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