Britain is reportedly planning to allow visa-free travel to the country for people from the European Union after Brexit.
There has been no official announcement but government sources are said to have confirmed that visitors won’t face any new constraints.
However, people who want to work, study or settle in the UK will need to comply with future migration rules once the country leaves the EU in March 2019.
The government is due to unveil its future immigration policy later this year.
The plan may come as a relief to many on the continent, although any attempt to impose visa demands on visitors may have soured relations between the UK and the EU still further. It might also have meant a large increase in bureaucracy.
The UK government’s position appears to be that its objective of controlling the country’s borders – a key aim of Brexit – does not necessarily mean the strict control of entry at a physical frontier. However, there are bound to be questions over how EU nationals will be prevented from overstaying any time limits.
A key government priority is to reduce immigration but ministers have long said they want companies to be allowed to hire skilled European workers.
Visa-free travel does not amount to free movement under EU rules which imply the right to work in another state.
The proposal may prove controversial, if early reactions on social media are any indication. The “Three Million” group which campaigns for the rights of EU citizens in the UK tweeted that requiring EU citizens to ask permission to stay was not so “British fair play”. The pro-Brexit Leave.EU movement posted a comment saying the government had “surrendered to Brussels on free movement”.
LEAVE.EU 🇬🇧 (@LeaveEUOfficial) August 17, 2017
Separately, the UK government says it is confident that Brexit negotiations with Brussels are on course to move on to the next phase after October.
It follows reports suggesting the two sides might have to delay talks on the UK’s future relationship with the EU due to a lack of progress on priority issues: the divorce bill, citizens’ rights and the Irish border.