The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has confirmed multiple reports over the past few weeks that the Cabinet has agreed to seek a transitional deal following Brexit in March 2019, for a period of about three years ending before the next election in 2022. Mr Hammond has said that during this transitional period, EU citizens will still be free to visit and work in the UK, provided they register with authorities first. This will remain the case at least until a permanent post-Brexit immigration policy is put in place.
Mr Hammond confirmed that whilst the UK will leave the customs union and single market on 29 March 2019, there is broad agreement between Ministers that a transitional deal will be required in order to avoid a Brexit “cliff edge”. Mr Hammond said that the day after Brexit officially takes place in March 2019, “many things will look similar”, with “French and Spanish products on the supermarket shelves”. Only after the transitional period would the UK put in place a permanent immigration policy, agree its own trade deal with the EU and be able to negotiate trade deals with other countries around the world.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Hammond said that “there is broad consensus that this process has to be completed by the scheduled time of the next general election, which is in June 2022, so a period of at the most three years in order to put these new arrangements in place and move us on a steady path without cliff edges from where we are today to the new long-term relationship with the European Union”.
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