Ending free movement with a no deal Brexit “will create chaos,” says Abbott

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has said that ending freedom of movement on 31 October “will create chaos,” as the government seeks to downplay the impact of a no deal Brexit.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, the Shadow Home Secretary said that Number 10’s plans to abruptly end free movement following a no deal exit would “make Windrush look like a minor blip.” Abbott warned that the two million EU nationals living and working in the UK who have yet to apply for settled status would be “in the exact same situation as the Windrush people.”

“They will be people that came here perfectly legally, but will not have the paperwork to prove that,” Abbott said.

Johnson’s plans to bring freedom of movement to a sudden end marks a clear departure from his predecessor Theresa May, whose proposed transition period would have kept rules on free movement in place until the end of 2020. Commenting on the government’s plan to radically overhaul the UK immigration system overnight in the event of a no deal departure, Abbott said: “This is typical of everything that Boris is doing around Brexit. He makes grand announcements without thinking through the practicalities and without thinking through what the effect will be on the society and business.” Abbott went on to urge the government to listen to EU nationals and businesses who want “more consultation and a longer, more considered transitional process.”

Speaking ahead of a roundtable discussion with businesses in Stevenage today, Jeremy Corbyn echoed Abbott’s concerns that a no deal Brexit would lead to a “dire state of affairs”. The Labour leader has demanded the immediate publication of the government’s no deal assessments after ministers claimed that the leaked ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ dossier – which warns of food, medicine and fuel shortages – was out of date.

He commented: “Boris Johnson’s denials can’t be trusted, and will do nothing to give businesses or consumers any confidence that the dire state of affairs described in these documents aren’t right around the corner.

“What we know for sure is that this government is wilfully committed to a policy that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet know will destroy jobs, push up food prices in the shops and open up our NHS to a takeover by US private companies.

“That is a price that Boris Johnson is willing to pay because it won’t be him and his wealthy donors who pay it – it will be the rest of us.”

James Kelly is editing LabourList while Sienna Rodgers is away.

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