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Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

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Renewing the Centre

EU Migration and Brexit

The current government have committed to putting an end to the free movement of persons, one of the four freedoms underpinning the Single Market. Yet, over a year from the referendum, very little discussion has taken place as to what ending free movement will mean in practice. A whole range of policy choices remains unresolved and major trade-offs insufficiently understood.

Over the coming months, the Institute will be undertaking analysis and research to explore the story of EU migration to the UK, digging underneath the headlines to better understand the characteristics and motivations of people coming to the UK from the EU.

Is it really true that the majority of EU migrants are “low skilled”? What proportion arrive without a job offer? What explains the big increases—and more recently, the falls—we have seen over the last decade?

This improved fact base will afford us a deeper understanding of the major policy choices facing the UK in upcoming Brexit negotiations. Although the government has said it plans to bring immigration policy back under national control, how it plans to do this remains far from clear. New rules will need to be agreed about the rights of students, visitors, people seeking to work, and people seeking to join other family members. The Institute will explore these options, providing greater transparency to a debate that has hitherto been happening behind closed doors.

Harvey Redgrave Senior Policy Fellow for Immigration

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