A major study has been ordered by the Government to look at the economic impact of ending free movement of EU workers.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, wants to know whether some parts of the UK will be affected more than others, whether there will be skills shortages and the impact on seasonal jobs.
The study will be carried out by the Migration Advisory Committee, a quango that advises the Government on immigration issues, which will report by September next year.
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In a letter to the committee’s chairman, Professor Alan Manning, Ms Rudd said the Government continues “working towards the goal of achieving sustainable levels of net migration”.
And the Home Secretary said that under Brexit “we will be able to apply different immigration rules and requirements according to the UK’s economic and social needs”.
She said: “Leaving the European Union gives us the opportunity to take control of immigration from the EU.
“We will ensure we continue to attract those who benefit us economically, socially and culturally.
“But, at the same time, our new immigration system will give us control of the volume of people coming here – giving the public confidence we are applying our own rules on who we want to come to the UK and helping us to bring down net migration to sustainable levels.
“The study I am asking the Migration Advisory Committee to complete is a major step in ensuring we create a system that works in the best interests of the country.”
The Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis, added: “We want to build a system where we have control of our borders and which delivers for our industries and our economy.”
Responding to concerns from business, the Home Secretary also said there will be an implementation period when the UK leaves the EU to ensure there is no “cliff edge” for employers or EU nationals in the UK.
But the study has been dismissed as too little, too late by political opponents, who claim it should have been ordered immediately after the EU referendum last year.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Sir Ed Davey said: “The Government needs to explain why this study wasn’t commissioned a year ago, directly after the referendum.
“The NHS, businesses and universities that depend on European citizens need answers now, not in another 14 months’ time.”