In a new age of remote working has the UK government really “taken back control” of the borders?
The UK officially left the EU at the end of the Brexit transition period on the 31st December 2020. The government has since declared its success in taking back control of the UK borders, with the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, stating: “we will be free to seize the opportunities that come with being a sovereign nation once again. We will make our border safer and more secure, and we will deliver our new firm and fair points-based immigration system.”
The promise to take back control of the borders was a prominent one throughout the Vote Leave campaign in 2016, and arguably laid the foundation for Brexit. On claiming to have fulfilled this promise, the government has recently published their 2025 UK Border Strategy, which sets out their vision for the “world’s most effective border.” But in a world that is quickly becoming increasingly digitally connected, borders could face losing their importance.
The decreasing significance of borders in this global digital age, paired with the long-term negative consequences that the UK could face as a result of Brexit, which includes its relationship with EU member states, diplomatic standing, and economic issues, begs the question as to whether “taking back the borders” was really worth it?
The rise of remote working
Remote working was already on the rise well before the COVID-19 pandemic, new communication platforms have meant that digital collaboration is easier than ever.
A survey about the state of remote work was recently published, using data gathered before the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 3,500 remote workers included in the survey, 98% wanted to continue to work remotely for the rest of their careers whilst 97% also recommended remote work to others.
Whilst it’s true that remote work was already on the rise, the COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted this increase. In a matter of weeks, millions of workers all across the globe left their offices empty in place of home-based work, navigating the new form of online offices using communication platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to do this.
With vaccines now rolling out, and the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, there’s no evidence to suggest that remote working will disappear. Instead it seems that it’s here to stay, many large corporations have already announced the permanent, or long-term move to remote working.
It’s easy to see why remote working could be here to stay, it’s provided people with the freedom to live anywhere they want, without having to compromise their careers. Now people can live in one country, whilst working for an organization in another, opening up many more opportunities when it comes to both their personal and work life.
Benefits for companies too
It’s not just employees that benefit from remote working. Companies hiring remote staff now have a wider talent pool to choose from, which also opens up opportunities for a more diverse workforce. As well as this, there’s the obvious benefit of saving money on office space, as well as the significant costs that often come with hiring overseas workers.
There may be tax and legal implications to remote work arrangements for both the individual and the company but if the individual is based in, and therefore works from, the country of his/her origin rather than move to the country of the company, immigration rules will not be triggered or apply.
Border control comes at the cost of UK citizens freedom
When the Brexit transition period ended on the 31st December 2020, so did free movement between the EU and UK. Now, British citizens living in the EU will need to apply for settled status to remain there and those who wish to move to an EU country for more than 90 days will need a visa to do so.
Meanwhile, EU citizens are still free to move to and work in any of the 27 EU members states that they wish, having only had their freedom of movement limited in one country, the UK.
This means that for EU citizens free movement and the move to remote working means that the opportunities are endless, but UK citizens cannot say the same.
The UK government has given priority to so-called “control over national borders” over free movement, at a time when physical borders are at risk of becoming irrelevant as the world moves to flexible location-independent working. British citizens who mourn the loss of their freedom of movement can only hope that in the near future the UK Government will change direction again and realise that the future of work and play is global.
Do you need immigration help?
The UK’s new immigration system came into place at the end of the Brexit transition period, this means that there have been significant changes for those wanting to move to the UK, or for UK employers who wish to hire EU citizens.
Our lawyers have all the latest knowledge about the UK’s new immigration system, including the changes to UK visas and Sponsor Licence applications. They can provide you with reliable immigration advice about your situation, simply get in touch today on 01618269783,
Millions of people have moved to remote working since the COVID-19 pandemic: (Image credit: Unsplash)
Free movement between the UK and the EU has ended, was it worth it for control over the borders? (Image credit: Unsplash)