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Conditioning Family-life at the Intersection of Migration and Welfare: The Implications for ‘Brexit Families’


European Freedom of Movement (EFM) was central to the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU. Under a ‘hard’ Brexit scenario, it is expected that EFM between the UK and the EU will cease, raising uncertainties about the rights of existing EU citizens in the UK and those of any future EU migrants. This article is concerned with the prospects for family rights linked to EFM which, I argue, impinge on a range of families – so-called ‘Brexit families’ (Kofman, 2017) – beyond those who are EU-national families living in the UK. The article draws on policy analysis of developments in the conditionality attached to the family rights of non-EU migrants, EU migrants and UK citizens at the intersection of migration and welfare systems since 2010, to identify the potential trajectory of rights post-Brexit. While the findings highlight stratification in family rights between and within those three groups, the pattern is one in which class and gender divisions are prominent and have become more so over time as a result of the particular types of conditionality introduced. I conclude by arguing that, with the cessation of EFM, those axes will also be central in the re-ordering of the rights of ‘Brexit families’.

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Journal of Social Policy
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