Skip to main content

Visa-free Travel

Volume 664: debated on Thursday 5 September 2019

3. What plans the Government have to negotiate visa-free travel between the UK and the EU for short visits after the UK leaves the EU. (912276)

13. What plans the Government have to negotiate visa-free travel between the UK and the EU for short visits after the UK leaves the EU. (912286)

The European Union has confirmed that it will grant UK nationals visa-free travel for short stays, subject to reciprocity. The Government have also said that we do not intend to require visas for tourists or short-term business visitors from the European Union.

On longer-term working visas, 19% of people in the Calder Valley work in manufacturing, a sector that is now suffering from skill shortages and benefiting from very high employment. Can my right hon. Friend put the minds of businesses at rest, and explain how we can fill these skill shortfalls in the short term after Brexit that are currently filled through freedom of movement?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question, and I can certainly reassure him. As the Home Secretary set out, as we leave the EU we will transition to a new points-based immigration system that is built around the skills and talents that people have, not where they are from. In the short term, Swiss citizens and those from the European economic area who move to the UK after a no-deal Brexit on 31 October will still be able to start to study, as now.

How will we ensure that the UK continues to attract the brightest and best when we leave the EU?

My hon. Friend makes an important point—it is essential that we attract the brightest and best, not just from the EU but from around the world. That is what the Government are doing by repositioning ourselves with real growth areas around the world, alongside the EU.

Is the ministerial team aware that my constituency of Huddersfield, where I come from, is, like that of the hon. Member for Calder Valley (Craig Whittaker), the centre and heart of manufacturing in this country? We must be mobile and be able to visit places. People in the manufacturing centre of Huddersfield, and the university, are absolutely appalled by what might happen if there is a no-deal Brexit. We need access to our markets and to travel, and we believe it will be the end of the world if we crash out without a deal.

If he has studied my past, the hon. Gentleman may know that I lived in his constituency. I studied and have friends in his constituency, and I know it very well.

Last week, I spoke to Universities Scotland, which is deeply concerned about the status of Erasmus students who are currently in Scotland. If they go home for Christmas, can the Minister guarantee that they will be allowed back in, in the event of a no-deal Brexit?