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Boris Johnson rejects idea of creating UK department of immigration

Boris Johnson had been considering changes to the structure of Whitehall | Kirsty Wigglesworth-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Boris Johnson rejects idea of creating UK department of immigration

Downing Street eschews major Whitehall revamp in favor of ‘minor realignments.’

By

1/13/20, 1:27 PM CET

Updated 1/13/20, 1:52 PM CET

LONDON — Downing Street has shelved plans to create a department for immigration and borders separate from the Home Office this year, amid concerns that it would create too much disruption.

Boris Johnson had been considering changes to the structure of Whitehall, aimed at ensuring the government is fit for the post-Brexit era. But according to government officials, No. 10 has told the Home Office the idea of splitting the government department into two is not under consideration.

Instead of a large Whitehall restructuring in February, officials are now expecting “minor realignments” and further empowerment of the Cabinet Office so it can lead the negotiations on the future U.K.-EU relationship.

The rumors of a Whitehall revamp came after Johnson pledged to reduced immigration, especially when it comes to lower-skilled migrants, but without setting specific targets.

The officials said that creating a brand-new immigration department in the middle of a big post-Brexit reform of the U.K.’s immigration policy could create unnecessary disruption at the Home Office, already dogged by public mistrust in the wake of the Windrush scandal — in which British citizens who arrived in the country before 1973 were denied rights after being unable to provide documentation — and issues plaguing the EU Settlement Scheme — which guarantees that EU27 citizens living in the U.K.

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