Three million EU citizens living in the UK will need to have some form of ID documents following Brexit, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd has told MPs.
And in a slap-down for the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, she also said foreign students are likely to remain in the Government’s target to cut immigration to the tens of thousands.
The Home Secretary’s warning that Europeans living in the UK will require documentation came in reply to a question from the senior Labour MP Hilary Benn, who chairs the new Brexit Select Committee of MPs.
“There will be a need to have some sort of documentation … but we are not going to set it out yet,” she said.
“We are going to do it in a phased approach, to ensure that we use all the technology advantages that we are increasingly able to harness, to ensure that all immigration is carefully handled.”
The Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesman, Tom Brake, said the processing would add “roughly 10% to the Home Office workload” – costing at least another £100m a year and requiring 3,000 extra staff.
On students, Ms Rudd appeared to contradict Mr Johnson, who told Sky News on Sunday that he backed excluding them from overall immigration numbers, a move also supported by Chancellor Philip Hammond.
The Home Secretary told MPs: “Students play an important role in contributing to the economy and are most welcome in the UK.
“The internationally recognized definition of a migrant is someone coming here for over 12 months, so they are likely to stay within that definition, although I’m aware there are different views on this matter.”
When asked by Home Affairs Select Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper whether students should be taken out of the overall target, Ms Rudd replied: “There are different views on this.
“The definition that I referred to was for international students, which is held by the Office for National Statistics, which is for over 12 months – they represent an immigrant and are therefore part of the numbers.”
The Home Secretary also claimed that the UK will have greater control over its borders following Brexit.
She said: “One thing for certain, though, is that when we do leave the European Union we will have more control over immigration from the European Union and will be making sure the immigration that we do get from the European Union gets the right balance of attracting the type of people who can really boost the UK businesses that need it.”