The delay of the government's Immigration Bill until as late as early next year is prompting further Cabinet infighting between Remainers and Leavers.
Home secretary Amber Rudd is under growing pressure from Brexiters to bring the bill forward, in order to ensure the government is prepared for a no deal Brexit scenario, Politico reports. The bill is one of a number necessitated by the Brexit process, and will enshrine a new immigration system in law once the UK leaves the EU on March 29, 2019. Critically the bill, which has already been drafted, will bring freedom of movement to an end.
Brexiteers argue the bill should be pushed through to ensure there is enough time to prepare in case the negotiations with the EU collapse - because if talks collapse, there will be no transition and a new immigration system will be required in just over a year.
There are also concerns that it is causing uncertainty for those with foreign partners, who are eager to see how the new regime will affect them.
According to Politico, some Leavers believe the delay is part of a wider attempt to undermine the viability of a hard Brexit, however Remainers argue it is a reflection of other concerns, such as transition and citizens' rights, taking priority.
The delay is having a knock-on effect on the “access to benefits bill”, which was due to be published after the EU summit later this month, because it will require additional clauses if the immigration bill is not ready.
Rudd reportedly wants three non-Brexit bills brought before MPs before the Immigration Bill, and has written to the leader of the house Andrea Leadsom to set out how she plans to respond to a no deal scenario without legislation.