Would the freedom of movement directive automatically cease to apply to the UK after a hard Brexit or is some sort of parliamentary action necessary for that?

1 Answer 1


The current law is that it would cease to apply at 11 PM GMT on March 29th 2019. The plan was to pass further legislation that transposed all EU rules, including freedom of movement, into British law before then, but in the event of a no-deal crash that probably wouldn't happen.

However, the British government has indicated that it would want to keep some aspects of freedom of movement, particularly good goods, and to an extent for services, capital and people. The extent of this is unclear at this time, but for example it does not wish to see any border infrastructure in Ireland and people who cross the border for work may be able to continue to do so. This would all require parliamentary action to implement.

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    @Jontia Boris Johnson, according to the Independent. After the meaningful vote I also heard him say he wanted a Canada-style trade deal which would allow an open border between the UK and Ireland so I assume that would also imply FoM of people.
    – JJJ
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 10:48
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    The first paragraph isn't quite right. The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 already retains all EU law in British law after exit day - but gives the Government the right to make any changes after that date that they deem necessary. So for this directive, it will remain law unless and until the Government change it. Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 11:16
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    @JJJ the UK can let in whoever it likes in wants on whatever terms it wants.
    – user
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 11:51
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    Keeping some but not all of the free market rules is something the EU has explicitly said is not an option for the UK. As the UK would need unanimous consent to enact something like that (not unlike a trade deal) in the case of a no deal brexit, it would cease to apply and would need to be first re-negotiated and then passed into law. While yes, the UK can let in whoever it wants, the EU is also free in that aspect, and is probably not going to extend the benefits of the free market to the UK without further consideration.
    – Magisch
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 12:01
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    @user: the fixing has already started. For example, here's a statutory instrument (SI) published yesterday. As you can see, a lot of it concerned with replacing references to EU bodies with references to UK equivalents. Many SIs like this have already been made, and more are on their way. Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 12:19

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