Concerns over immigration have been identified as a significant contributing factor to the decision by the UK to vote to leave the European Union. The ruling Conservative Party, which is kicking-off its 2019 general election, aims to politically capitalise on anti-free movement sentiment.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives said on Sunday that UK would apply equal treatment to European Union citizens and immigrants outside the bloc after the end of free movement in January 2021.
“As we come out of the EU we have a new opportunity for fairness and to make sure all those who come here are treated the same. We will make our immigration system equal”, Johnson said in a statement.
As the PM sets out his election promises regarding post-Brexit immigration policy, the Conservative leadership said that EU nationals would generally have to a 5 year waiting period before being legible for welfare payments and would also have to pay a surcharge before receiving health services.
This comes amid proposals by Labour Party to extend freedom of movement, even within its own potential withdrawal agreement from European Union, which it aims to negotiate.
While talking to BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday morning Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn saying there will be “a lot of movement”.
“A lot of EU nationals have made their homes in this country and made a massive contribution to our society. A lot of British people lie in different parts of the EU and many of those families have been through unbelievable stress. So they absolutely must have the right to remain and bring their families here”.
“Also, there are also huge economic demands. There are 40,000 nurse vacancies in the NHS, partly because so many EU nationals have left. We have a shortage of doctors. We cannot exist in isolation.
“Therefore, there has to be migration into Britain in order to maintain our economy and our services. That will be reflected in our policy that you see on Thursday.”
While seemingly contrary to the decision to leave the EU, the statement from Labour comes as a new poll conducted by YouGov that 56% of voters would support maintaining freedom of movement post-Brexit.
The Labour Party manifesto in 2017 election promised that “free movement will end” following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.