As members are aware, the future border regime between the UK and the EU is one of the most critical Brexit issues for recreational boaters. The Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – which is currently making its way through 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.
On 27 June, RYA’s Director of External Affairs, Howard Pridding, 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 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.
Our recent engagement with government on behalf of RYA members comes in the context of Conservative leadership contest which has seen much debate and speculation about the prospect of a no deal Brexit. Though the new Prime Minister is due to take office on 24 July, it is likely to be September at the earliest, and perhaps even October, before the crunch point arrives whereby the new Prime Minister will have to decide to leave with no deal on 31 October and MPs opposed to this outcome will have to consider how they are going to try and stop it happening.
In preparation for a possible no deal Brexit in the autumn, 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.