Freedom of movement

The UK digital and tech sectors have always relied on the free flow of people, as employees, into the UK and outward into Europe. Our inherently international and collaborative industries now face an uncertain future as borders are re-established and freedom of movement comes to an end.

Progress and developments:
The House of Lords has taken evidence from several tech industry bodies on the impact that any new system of migration could have on the digital sector. This evidence, however, was conversational and non-binding.

On 5 September the Guardian leaked a Home Office plan which indicated that freedom of movement will come to an immediate end after Brexit.

The document did suggest that the tech and digital industries will grow after Brexit – as a means of placing the few EU nationals who will be allowed into Britain under constant suspicion and surveillance. As the Guardian described it:

All newly arrived EU migrants will be required to register after three or six months for a biometric residence permit for which fingerprints may be required. That smacks of a bureaucratic solution that a government department which has been at the forefront of developing a “database state” was always most likely to favour. The document even hints at the prospect that EU nationals will not be able to access public services and benefits without their residence permit.

Britain already has a system of immigration rules that is so complicated that it is almost impossible for laymen, or indeed poorly paid Home Office caseworkers, to understand fully. The recent episode in which about 100 deportation notices were mistakenly sent to EU nationals has knocked confidence in the ability of the Home Office to deliver.

Nevertheless, for those who fail to follow these complex new rules, wittingly or otherwise, the Home Office promises a new framework of “compliance, deterrence and data-sharing” with all the panoply of existing “hostile environment measures” such as sanctions against landlords and employers of illegal labour to enforce them.