Priti’s free movement battle: Home Secretary wants borders shut down on October 31 amid claims civil servants are ‘dragging their feet’
- Senior officials sent to Singapore to study how border infrastructure operates
- Priti Patel has demanded toughening up of preparations for leaving the EU
- Ministers warned of chaos of ending freedom of movement by stroke of pen
Published: 17:58 EDT, 17 August 2019 | Updated: 03:21 EDT, 18 August 2019
Priti Patel has ordered her senior officials to travel to Singapore to study how their border infrastructure operates as she puts ‘rocket boosters’ under No Deal planning at the Home Office.
Central to her plans are a bid to end freedom of movement for EU citizens travelling to Britain overnight on October 31 – in the face of opposition from mandarins.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, pictured, has demanded a toughening up of preparations for leaving the European Union on Halloween without a deal
Sajid Javid, pictured, had promised a new immigration act to clarify border structures before the UK left the EU but central to Ms Patel’s plans are a bid to end freedom of movement for EU citizens travelling to Britain overnight on October 31
Her predecessor Sajid Javid had promised a whole new immigration act outlining new border structures would be in place before Britain left the EU, but Ministers intend to delay all Brexit legislation until after Halloween in order to prevent Remainer MPs from using the bills to try to frustrate our exit.
Instead, freedom of movement for EU citizens will be ended by the stroke of a pen through a statutory instrument – a change to the law that only requires approval from MPs after it has been implemented.
Ms Patel, pictured, has also ordered her senior officials to travel to Singapore to study how their border infrastructure
However, officials and other Government departments have warned of potential chaos that could see Britons stranded on the Continent and the border impossible to police without new legislation in place.
A Whitehall source said: ‘What happens to people who are here on holiday? How will we know if people coming on November 1 are not just coming for the day or for a year? Who is going to ask them? What does the border look like? It’s going to be chaos.’
Instead, civil servants have argued for a more phased introduction of the end of freedom of movement that would see time for people to register and new border infrastructure put in place.
However, Ms Patel has insisted they have just eight weeks to find a solution to the issues and demanded they travel to the Far East to see how advanced border IT systems can work.
The Mail on Sunday understands that Home Office staff have visited Singapore to study how the city state successfully counts people in and out across its borders, with a view to implementing a similar system at British entry points. And the Home Secretary has demanded daily updates on their progress.
Last week, The Mail on Sunday revealed that all legislation relating to No Deal had been delayed until after the planned exit day of October 31. However, the declaration from the Cabinet Office’s Brexit war cabinet stunned officials, who claim the plan is ‘leaping into legal limbo’.
But it is understood that Ms Patel’s tough stance is fully endorsed by Downing Street and the Prime Minister’s enforcer Dominic Cummings.
Last night, a source close to Ms Patel said: ‘Priti wants to put rocket boosters under the Home Office’s stance. She thinks Saj did a great job before her but with a new Prime Minister and new priorities, changes needed to be made.
‘For a start, that means properly preparing for No Deal – it’s clear those at the top of Whitehall had no intention of preparing for No Deal.’