The ramifications of the UK Brexit vote seem set to continue impacting upon every sector of British society for many years to come. When one considers the fact that Article 50 has yet to be triggered, something which will set the clock ticking for two years leading up to the UK actually leaving the European Union, the changes which are already beginning to be felt are striking indeed. To date, many of these changes, or concerns over changes to come, are based upon a large degree of uncertainty over the form which Brexit will ultimately take. Nowhere is this more the case than when dealing with issues of immigration.
Here at Reiss Edwards we describe ourselves as the best immigration lawyers in the UK, and with good reason. Our commitment to our clients is matched by our ability and desire to remain fully conversant with all of the latest developments in immigration law. In the current climate of uncertainty, this can mean an immigration law firm has to come to terms with new developments on an almost daily basis. This is a challenge which we are more than happy to meet, and as UK immigration lawyers we pride ourselves on being able to offer genuinely up to the minute advice to clients concerned about their status as UK citizens, both now and in the future.
The latest area of concern revolves around the rights of citizens of the Republic of Ireland to travel and reside in the UK, and the fact that the fall-out from Brexit might include Irish citizens losing what is now regarded as a ‘special status’. This special status is based upon the historical ties between the two countries, and includes Irish people living in the UK having the right to run for public office – including to stand as MP – and to vote.
Until now it had been assumed that these rights would remain in place following Brexit, as they are based on the Ireland Act of 1949, which was the piece of legislation which removed Ireland from the control of the UK.
The Ireland Act was intended to treat Irish citizens in the same manner as those from the Commonwealth who, at that time, also had the right to emigrate to the UK. Although Commonwealth citizens were later subject to immigration controls, the same law was never applied to Irish citizens who, even now, don’t have to show a passport when travelling between Britain and Ireland.
Legal experts considering this law in the wake of Brexit are now beginning to voice concerns that new legislation will need to be enacted if the special status of Irish citizens is to survive the process of leaving the EU. The same uncertainty is also being felt by UK citizens living in other parts of the EU, in particular those who are concerned over whether they will be able to continue accessing French and Spanish health care facilities.