Last week I was pleased to be able to speak on the floor of the House of Commons in the first full debate on the European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill. During this debate, I highlighted local residents’ concerns around the issues of immigration and the challenges that the UK faces to build a more equal society as we leave the EU.
I strongly believe that immigration was one of the key factors that contributed to a majority of local residents in Solihull Borough voting to leave. This issue dominated many of the conversations I had when I was out campaigning - including outside the gates of Jaguar LandRover who sell 52% of their vehicles to the continent. Therefore, as we look towards the forthcoming negotiations, it is paramount that we succeed in getting the best possible deal on immigration.
The Prime Minister assured MPs that once we leave the EU, Britain will remain an open and tolerant country - still able to benefit from the skills and talents that migrants bring to our society. However, with concern mounting about growing pressures on local NHS services, housing and schools, the Government is aware that it is not possible to effectively control immigration whilst there is unlimited freedom of movement with the EU.
For that reason, the Home Secretary is working to design an effective new immigration system which will guarantee that we can control the number of people who come to the UK from the EU. And following our departure from the EU, the Government will suspend the Free Movement Directive - making European immigration subject to UK Law.
I realise that this will raise concerns about the status of UK citizens living overseas and the status of EU migrants already living in the UK. Therefore, I am pleased to be able to reassure residents that the Government will be making securing their status; as well as that of British nationals living in the EU, a priority once negotiations begin. Similarly, EU students will still be welcome to come to the UK to complete their studies, and appropriate measures will be introduced to support businesses who are reliant on labour from the EU.
Dame Caroline Spelman MP
Published in the Solihull Observer | 9th February 2016