Architects have voiced dismay at the government’s announcement that freedom of movement within the European Union will end in March 2019
On Monday (31 July) the prime minister’s office said that ‘it was wrong’ to suggest free movement would ‘continue as it is now’ once Britain leaves the EU.
Architects have repeatedly spoken out about the problems which will be caused by restrictions on immigration from and emigration to the European Union, with many claiming it would severely harm their businesses.
Following disagreement within the Cabinet over the issue, a spokesman for the prime minister said: ‘Free movement will end in March 2019.
‘We have published proposals on citizens’ rights. Last week, the home secretary said there will be a registration system for migrants arriving post-March 2019.
‘Other elements of the post-Brexit immigration system will be brought forward in due course. It would be wrong to speculate on what these might look like or to suggest that free movement will continue as it is now.’
Heinz Richardson, board director at Jestico + Whiles, called on the government to take on board the views of business in drawing up new immigration arrangements.
He said: ‘Jestico + Whiles is an international company with offices in London and Prague, global projects and a talented and hugely valued team that hails from UK, the EU and further afield.
‘I have no doubt that any curtailment of our current freedom of movement across borders will have a detrimental impact on our business. I do not support anything that impedes freedom of movement between the UK and our fellow EU members and I am dismayed that government ministers have gone on record to suggest such a damaging scenario for 2019.’
Any curtailment of our current freedom of movement across borders will have a detrimental impact on our business
And Rab Bennetts, director of Bennetts Associates, said: ‘I find it difficult to comprehend anything the government says on this subject, as they are clearly in a state of total policy chaos.
‘To some extent, though, the damage is already done, as many Europeans working here feel rejected and unwelcome. We know of several talented people who have already decided to leave the UK because they are so disillusioned. It’s tragic.’
RIBA president Jane Duncan was more cautious in her reaction, saying: ‘RIBA members have identified access to talent as a top priority in Brexit negotiations and the UK government must recognise the benefits of the UK as an attractive place to work for ambitious architects from across the globe.
‘We need to ensure that any potential change to the immigration system neither drives away international talent nor increases the burden for practices that want hire talent from abroad.’