If I had £1 for every person that has asked me about Brexit/Exit and the future of immigration, I would probably be on holiday in the Maldives right now.
In my 24 years of practising UK Immigration law, one thing that has always been true is that the law has always been changing, and since BREXIT changing even more.
If you ask so-called Brexiteers on the day of the referendum why they were voting YES and were to revisit those same campaigners today, almost certainly 90% would have very different views to what they believed would be the outcome of a YES vote.
Certainly, the biggest ‘wake-up’ call for Brexiteers was that BREXIT – did not mean IMMEDIATE EXIT and that the days/ weeks and now months are passing by, with no real identifiable change.
Indeed, speculation has set in that we might need a further referendum on what indeed Brexit will be – Soft Brexit, Hard Brexit, or indeed NO Brexit.
With pundits on both sides of the fence it is clear that for immigrants that are not EU citizens, the question of BREXIT is what effect the final EXIT of the UK from the EU club will have on the Immigration Rules.
This is not so easy a question to consider, where at first glance the answer would be to rewrite the Immigration Act 1971.
However, if we were to wake up tomorrow and be surrounded by water (Oh we already are!) and a lonely iceberg surrounded by Frigid EU neighbours, so much of what we know today will be no more in the law.
Firstly the Human Rights Act which for the first time gave you and me real rights and freedoms was incorporated into UK LAW, giving all in the UK the rights that Europe had enjoyed before – being the European Convention on Human Rights. (9 November 1998)
Secondly, club membership when we joined (1973) also brought benefits to people such as Turkey, (Still enjoyed today in regards to rights to establish business)
Thirdly, many of the immigration categories (Such as ten years long residence) a be traced to EU law and the Human Rights elements of the factual matrix.
Leaving Europe can only be described as trying to remove Microsoft from your computer – extracting its every web from every corner of the hard drive – No easy feat – when EU law has been at the cornerstone of our very existence for over FORTY years. How does one just press the delete button?
So what can we expect?
Well an unexpected turn of events was the recent change of our Secretary of State – and when thrown into the mix we assess the banter of recent weeks (Boris Johnson and Co) in respect of crying “Amnesty” Pre Brexit – and also the unexpected (and rather strange) developments surrounding the Windrush (I say strange in that from an Immigration perspective it is hard to see how so many would not have regularised themselves years and years ago under the 14 year/20 year rules in any event) scandal – what is becoming clear is that the Government has accepted that there are indeed ‘millions’ of undocumented immigrants in the UK, has taken a step back in regards to the recent scandal of 322(5) allegations (Thanks Guardian), and is clearly at opposing sides with Labour (Who has come out in favour of open doors (And opening the doors of detention centres to boot), it is no wonder that what is sure about Brexit is that the EXIT of BREXIT is not very well illuminated, and finding that exit may not be as easy, or indeed possible in the end.