Open Brexit - Bar Bosses call for free movement and bespoke deal for City
16 March 2017
Legal chiefs say the
Government should give EU citizens unrestricted access to UK jobs
in post-Brexit Britain and claim that British workers do not lose
out to EU migrant labour.
But they agree that the UK Government, not the EU, will now call
In a comprehensive and easy-to-read legal guide on Brexit, the
Bar Council also tells the Government it should defend employment
rights of UK workers, make a strategy to keep London as the global
centre for financial services, and write up a solid 'Plan B' in
case no deal is reached with the EU two years after Article 50 is
The Bar Council's proposals for a worker registration system
would allow EU citizens into the UK without a visa, let them seek
work without restriction, and give free movement to students, the
self-employed, and those with means to be self-sufficient.
Chair of the Brexit Working Group, Hugh Mercer QCsaid: "Our
post-Brexit immigration policy must be able quickly and efficiently
to fill gaps in the labour market, facilitate the supply of
services, and stimulate entrepreneurial activity.
"The evidence shows immigration does not reduce the number of
jobs available to British born workers, and it doesn't lower wages,
but the big worry for many people is that as a member of the EU,
the UK has been unable to set its own rules.
"The Brexit Papers outline a legal scheme that will give the UK
complete sovereignty and autonomy over immigration policy and allow
the Government to control how EU citizen workers access UK
benefits. It will also help the Government to identify the parts of
the economy that benefit most from immigration and to set its own
rules for refusing or granting admission to the UK where that is
"This is straight-forward legal solution that is capable of
meeting the needs of British business and making sure that, on
immigration policy, it is the elected UK Government that makes the
Protect rights of UK workers
The Brexit Papers also claim that key employment rights
currently enjoyed by British workers could be scrapped if the
Government does not transfer them when the UK leaves the EU.
Hugh Mercer QC said: "The Great Repeal Bill will bring EU
regulations that protect UK workers into UK law, but that is only
part of the story. Some employment rights are already part of
English Law but have been interpreted in the European Court of
Justice, and if we want to give UK workers the same rights as they
have now, the effect of the judgments must be incorporated in to UK
"These include preventing employers from rolling up holiday pay
with normal pay, which can discourage workers from taking annual
leave. There could also be changes to discrimination law and the
rules on compensation for workers who have been discriminated
against. At present, EU judgments put an obligation on employers to
justify pay gaps between men and women where they do work of equal
value, but this too could be at risk.
"We don't want UK workers to lose out."
The UK's top spot as the global hub for financial services is
also at risk unless the Government creates a bespoke agreement with
the EU to deal with the loss of the financial services "passport",
according to the Bar Council.
Hugh Mercer QC said:"Financial services make up 7% of UK GDP and
directly employ 1.1 million people, two-thirds of whom work outside
of London. Larger, firms cannot wait until the conclusion of the
Article 50 negotiations to know what will happen. Many are in the
process of developing their contingency plans on the basis that the
UK does not remain a member of the single market and will no longer
benefit from the existing passporting regime.
"Other mechanisms used by countries outside the EEA to access
financial services markets, such as the equivalence regime and the
emergent third country passport, will not fill the gaps created by
the loss of the passport, and WTO terms, will not suffice.
"What we need is a bespoke agreement with the EU, replicating
the status quo as far as possible and covering the gaps created by
the loss of the passport regime.
"Any such agreement must also grant legal and other essential
services sufficient rights so that they can continue effectively to
support the financial services sector."
Plan B: The 'no deal' scenario
The UK businesses face a cliff-edge if the Government does not
agree a deal with the EU before the two year deadline, the Bar
Hugh Mercer QC said:"A 'no deal' scenario will have serious
consequences for UK citizens and businesses. Legal rights will
disappear overnight and it would cause serious economic damage.
"Our trading relationship with the EU would be under WTO terms,
which would mean an increase in tariffs on goods and services and
uncertainty for millions of UK citizens living abroad about their
rights to residency, work, healthcare and state pensions.
"The possibility of a "no-deal" is sufficiently real that we
must have a 'Plan B'."
Notes to editors
The Brexit Papers offer Government, parliamentarians, the media
and the public a concise and informative evaluation of the legal
challenges posed by leaving the EU, and their practical
implications for the economy and society.
They offer a series of recommendations to Government, and each
can be read as a stand-alone document.
The Brexit Papers first emerged following a Bar Council
roundtable meeting for civil servants from a range of Government
departments to discuss how Brexit would impact areas of law
including crime, competition, tax, intellectual property,
insolvency and family. They also looked at the implications for the
legal services sector and the importance of the mutual recognition
of UK and EU judgments.
This second edition represents an expansion of the legal fields
covered, which now include immigration, financial services,
employment, consumer law, traffic accidents and an updated paper on
intellectual property. The second edition also includes a paper
commissioned by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on the legal
implications of the UK leaving the EU in a 'no deal' scenario.
Further information is available from the Bar Council Press
Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.
The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It
The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory
Fair access to justice for all
The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across
the profession, and
- The development of business opportunities for barristers at
home and abroad.
The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of
the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory
functions through the independent Bar