RYA meets with Immigration Minister and Home Office officials
As Boris Johnson settles in to Number 10, one question continues to dominate the British political scene: what will happen when we meet the current Brexit deadline date of 31 October?
During the recent leadership campaign, Mr Johnson pledged that the UK would leave the EU on 31 October “do or die.” He has said that his preference is for a negotiated deal, though has rejected anything short of the wholesale deletion of the Irish backstop, saying that keeping an open border should instead be addressed in future negotiations on a free trade deal.
Whilst MPs strongly opposed to no deal are likely to attempt to legislate in the autumn to prevent such a scenario, and could be successful in doing so, it is nonetheless clear that Boris Johnson’s appointment as PM has significantly increased the risks of a no deal Brexit, compared to his predecessor who pledged to only pursue this route with the approval of MPs – something which is highly unlikely to be forthcoming.
As members are aware, one of the most critical Brexit issues for recreational boaters, both in a no deal scenario and in the event of a negotiated exit, is the future border regime between the UK and the EU. The Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – which is currently awaiting a date for the next stage of debate in Parliament – is part of the process of ending free movement of people as the UK leaves the EU. The ending of free movement, and the border regime for recreational boats which replaces it, will of course be of significant importance to RYA members and the wider boating community, particularly those who regularly travel between the UK and other EU member states.
RYA’s Director of External Affairs, Howard Pridding, recently met with Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes MP to discuss the measures contained within the Bill, the Government’s plans for future border controls and also how the UK will seek to protect the interests of RYA qualification holders who currently work on a seasonal basis in RYA training centres across the EU27. This builds on previous engagement which RYA has had with the Home Office and Border Force officials on these issues.
In the meeting, the Minister and Home Office officials discussed with RYA how a new immigration regime for recreational craft can best ensure that the UK’s borders are kept secure without causing unnecessary inconvenience and disruption to boaters. A follow-up session will be held soon between RYA and officials at the Home Office to explore these issues in more detail.
RYA will also continue to engage with both the Home Office and other government departments over the coming months on the no deal contingency plans in place for boats crossing the UK-EU border in the event of a no deal Brexit, as well as on the negotiating stance taken by the UK Government on arrangements for seasonal workers in the sector.
In preparation for a possible no deal Brexit in October, RYA has prepared a Brexit Q&A considering a number of boating-related scenarios, based on RYA’s knowledge of the legislation as it currently stands.