Free movement of EU citizens to Britain to end in March 2019

A registration system for people working in the UK could be put in place

Free movement of EU citizens to Britain to end in March 2019

File photo of an EU flag flying in front of the UK Houses of Parliament in London | Image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

Free movement of European Union citizens to Britain will end when the country leaves the EU in March 2019, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman has said.

The comments by Downing Street came after days of confusion and UK Cabinet splits over the crucial issue of immigration after Brexit.

The spokesman said that proposals for a new immigration system after Brexit will be brought forward "in due course" and added: "It would be wrong to speculate on what these might look like or to suggest that free movement will continue as it is now."

Last week, the British Chancellor Philip Hammond said there should be no immediate change to immigration rules when Britain leaves the bloc.

Mr Hammond said there would be a registration system in place for people coming to work in the UK during a transitional period after Brexit.

But in an interview for The Sunday Times, British Trade Secretary Liam Fox said that any such move would "not keep faith" with the referendum result.

As senior members of the British government appeared to contradict each for days over Brexit plans, the spokesman said there is "broad agreement" to make Brexit as smooth as possible".

Details of a post-Brexit implementation period were a matter for negotiations, he added, but Britain is not seeking an "off-the-shelf" solution.

The Financial Times reported last week that Mr Hammond hoped for an "off-the-shelf" transition deal.

Last week, the UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd ordered a major study to look at the economic impact of ending free movement of EU workers.

Ms Rudd wants to know whether some parts of Britain will be affected more than others, whether there will be skills shortages and the impact on seasonal jobs.

The study will be carried out by the UK's Migration Advisory Committee, a quango that advises the government there on immigration issues.

It is set to report by September next year.