Liam Fox denies Cabinet deal on free movement of labour after Brexit

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond

The British cabinet has not made a decision on whether people will continue to move freely between the European Union and the United Kingdom for a transitional period after Brexit, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said. Continuing free movement after 2019 would "not keep faith" with the Brexit vote, he told The Sunday Times today.

British finance minister Philip Hammond said Friday that the Brexit transition could last until 2022 and the United Kingdom will try to keep as many aspects of its European Union membership in place as possible.

"If there have been discussions on that, I have not been party to them..."

This appeared at odds with Mr Hammond's signal that free movement would continue for a limited period in all but name with an added element of migrants having to register in the UK.

But immigration minister Brandon Lewis has been unequivocal in promising freedom of movement will end as soon as Britain leaves the EU.

He accused the finance minister of "going on manoeuvres" while May, weakened by the June general election, was on holiday in Italy. With May away on holiday, the debate has intensified.

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A growing number of other ministers have said they agree with the need for a transition period but Johnson - who has advocated a tough approach to the Brexit negotiations - has been silent on the issue recently.

Businesses which might have hoped that Phillip Hammond had pulled the government back from a commitment to a catastrophic cliff edge, crashing out of the European Union, have been misled.

The war of words erupted after Dr Fox insisted unregulated free movement of labour after Brexit would "not keep faith" with the European Union referendum result.

Not so, said Trade Secretary Liam Fox today. "I'll be very clear about that", Lewis said.

"And if Philip Hammond secures a three-year transitional deal, can Boris Johnson confirm he will stay in the Government and support the policy?"

"Many of the "risks" being highlighted about Brexit are perceived risks, not real risks".


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