With the deadline for a Brexit deal rapidly approaching, it appears that the prospect of a “no deal” is becoming a reality. For the last two years we have listened to our politicians talk with a huge amount of certainty about the UK’s bright future powered along by a phenomenal free trade agreement with the European Union. But as we get towards the deadline, there is still a huge gulf between what the UK wants from its future relationship with the EU and what it is likely to get. Brexiteers continually scream about what they perceive to be the EU trying to strong arm the UK, but the truth is the UK was never going to get an easy ride.
The so-called “nuclear option” was always going to be a distinct possibility as an end point of the negotiations between the UK and the EU. For years British politicians have baited and used the EU as the boogeyman and an excellent punch bag for the public's increasing despondency with politics. Now however things are going to be a little more difficult in Westminster. If Brexit has done one good thing, it has re-engaged the British people with politics, a move that will doubtlessly help future generations to get a better form of democracy. But in the short term, Brexit, a hard one at least, is going to cause some pain. This potential pain is now, finally, being openly discussed by our politicians. You can't help but fear that these politicians believed their own vitriol and genuinely never believed that we would be facing a no-deal situation.
So what preparations are being made? It's hard to say at this point what is going on behind closed doors, but there has certainly been more and more news about the government's no-deal strategy being debated in meeting rooms across the Palace of Westminster. You can't help but feel these meetings should have taken place a long time ago and perhaps people and businesses would have a lot more faith in the future should the government walk away from the negotiating table without a future deal between Britain and the European Union. But the approach of maintaining a stiff upper lip has not worked and the country is now woefully under prepared for what lies ahead.
If rumours circulating the corridors of power are to be believed, the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, one of the main players in Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, is about to make an attempt to take over the leadership of the Conservative Party and in turn install himself as the country’s prime minister. The notorious politician has kept himself in the media of late in an effort to ensure that his popularity does not wane. That hardly seems likely, Johnson is a controversial but highly popular figure in British politics and would certainly pose a threat to current incumbent Theresa May who has looked increasingly weak since taking the decision to hold a general election, only to lose the government's majority. Since this incident, the vultures have been circling and with the Brexit negotiations at an impasse, Johnson has, according to sources, felt it’s the time to strike.
But what would a Johnson government look like? In real terms you would expect a Trump-like addiction to media outings and populist reforms that may threaten to destabilise the UK’s strong democracy. As many have noted, Johnson sat on the fence for quite a while on Brexit before realising that it may be better to be in opposition to his colleagues to maximise his impact. After the referendum result was announced, Johnson was widely tipped to fight in the Conservative leadership election - he chose not to, to the astonishment of the world's media. Perhaps now Johnson has spotted an ideal opportunity to pounce.
Many experts had expected a raft of visa changes to be introduced in order to prevent the harmful effects of an ending of freedom of movement for EU migrants, but so far there has been almost nothing. This is either good news or bad news depending on your circumstances. If you are currently in the UK on one of the Tiered routes (Tier 1, 2 & 4), things are not looking bad for you at all. You may even find that by the end of your current visa, conditions have improved significantly and you are in a better place than you currently are. For those who are EU citizens, there is still a risk, albeit a small one, that you could lose your right to remain in the UK. Certainly for those who are about to travel to the UK, they may find that their future in the UK is not certain whatsoever.
Can you mitigate the potential damage from the end of freedom of movement? Potentially yes. There are still options for those who are in the UK and are EU citizens. Whatever your current situation, we would think it would be prudent to talk over your situation with an expert. While clearly nothing is set in stone, an expert may be able to find a way for you to cement your long-term future in the UK now and prevent any future worries. For those who haven’t yet travelled to the UK, we would say that you should come sooner rather than later. The next few months are going to be tumultuous, but it's unlikely that the UK will remove people who are here while the UK is in the EU.
If you need help with settling your immigration status or indeed you have any other immigration query then please get in touch. Our immigration solicitors are on hand to help migrants with their queries and use their years of knowledge and experience to ensure that they are looked after. For more information or to get started , please get in touch.