Liam Fox steadfast on ending freedom of movement in March 2019

Helen Cahill
Follow Helen
Fox is pushing back against suggestions made by chancellor Philip Hammond (Source: Getty)

International trade secretary Liam Fox has pushed back against any suggestion that the freedom of movement of people across the UK border will continue after Brexit.

The comments from Fox put him at odds with chancellor Philip Hammond, who has said full migration controls will not be imposed for some time after March 2019, when Britain officially leaves the bloc.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Fox said he had not been involved in any talks about extending freedom of movement as part of a transitional arrangement.

Read more: Freedom of movement to end in 2019, but Rudd rules out a "cliff edge"

"If there have been discussions on that, I have not been party to them," he said. "I have not been involved in any discussion on that, nor have I signified my agreement to anything like that."

He said any move to allow EU migrants to keep coming to the UK after Brexit would "not keep faith" with the result of the EU referendum.

His remarks come after Hammond said on Friday that "many things will look similar" after Brexit, and that a transitional deal could be in place until 2022.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

The latest clash over freedom of movement in the proper transitional period reveals a deep, unbridgeable chasm between the Brexit fundamentalists and the pragmatists.

Businesses which might have hoped that Phillip Hammond had pulled the government back from a commitment to a catastrophic cliff edge, crashing out of the EU, have been misled.

Hammond has been trying to soothe the fears of business leaders, who have been pushing for a temporary arrangement with the EU in order to avoid an economic shock.

But immigration minister Brandon Lewis has been unequivocal in promising freedom of movement will end as soon as Britain leaves the EU.

"Free movement of labour ends when we leave the European Union in the spring of 2019. I'll be very clear about that," Lewis said.

The government's new policy on EU migrants will be informed by a report from the Migration Advisory Committee, due to be published just six months before Brexit.

Related articles