May hints EU citizens WON’T get special access to UK post-Brexit

May gives strongest hint yet that EU citizens WON’T get preferential immigration treatment after Brexit

  • PM said to be planning to unveil new immigration system at Tory conference 
  • Post-Brexit arrangements could end preferential treatment for EU nationals 
  • The blueprint is expected to be discussed at Cabinet meeting later this month
  • Comes as Mrs May struggles to win over Tory MPs and activists to Chequers plan
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Theresa May today appeared to dismiss the prospect of giving preferential access for EU citizens to the UK.

The PM is preparing to unveil a new immigration system for after Brexit – potentially in her Tory conference speech next month.

There has been speculation over whether free movement-style arrangements will stay in place in order to ease negotiations with Brussels.

However, Mrs May gave her biggest signal yet that she backs a global system – a view also shared by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Pushed in her BBC Panorama interview on whether she ruled out giving a special immigration arrangement for EU citizens, Mrs May replied: ‘What we will be doing is putting forward a set of rules for people from the European Union and people from outside the European Union.’

Tough new rules could help the PM win over party activists who are deeply unhappy with the PM’s Chequers plan for Brexit. 

But the scale of the challenge she faces was underlined today when Boris Johnson launched another furious attack.

He warned that Mrs May’s blueprint would make the decision to leave the EU a ‘write off’ and put Britain under ‘foreign rule’ for the first time since 1066.

In a potential chink of light, the EU is preparing to make concessions on the Irish border, suggesting that technology could be used to minimise checks.


In a Panorama interview aired today, Mrs May gave her biggest signal yet that she backs a global system for immigration after Brexit




The proposals are expected to involve ending preferential treatment for EU nationals – an idea backed by Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured left in Downing Street last week). But they could be resisted by Chancellor Philip Hammond (pictured right at the Treasury today)


Boris Johnson, pictured leaving his Oxfordshire home today, has renewed his assault on the Chequers plan

The post-Brexit immigration blueprint is likely to be discussed at a Cabinet meeting next week.

However, some Whitehall figures predict that a standoff between ministers could prevent it being announced, with Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark set to resist tight restrictions.

Ministers have been encouraged by signs that EU counterparts are starting to accept that curbs to free movement could be needed.

  • EU offers high-tech solution to Irish border problem amid… Hammond warns that no-deal Brexit would be ‘extremely…

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One Cabinet minister told MailOnline they had recently detected a ‘softening’ of the position from politicians on the continent, who were concerned about gains by the far-right in elections in Germany and Sweden.

They suggested that the shift could help the UK when it came to bartering with the EU about future immigration arrangements. 

Mrs May has previously dismissed the idea of an Australian-style point-based immigration system, which was pushed by many Leave campaigners during the EU referendum.

She has also vowed to stick to her target of slashing net migration below 100,000 a year.

What is in Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint?

These are some of the key features of the Chequers plan being pushed by the UK government:

  • A new free trade area in goods, based on a ‘common rulebook’ of EU regulations necessary. This will require the UK to commit by treaty to match EU rules
  • ‘Mobility’ rules which will end automatic freedom of movement, but still allow UK and EU citizens to travel without visas for tourism and temporary work. It will also enable businesses to move staff between countries. 
  • Continued UK participation in and funding of European agencies covering areas like chemicals, aviation safety and medicines
  • A ‘facilitated customs arrangement’, removing the need for customs checks at UK-EU ports. It would allow differing UK and EU tariffs on goods from elsewhere in the world to be paid at the border, removing the need for rebates in the vast majority of cases. This is designed to avoid the need for a hard Irish border. But in theory it still allows Britain to sign trade deals.
  • Keeping services – such as banking or legal support – outside of the common rule book, meaning the UK is completely free to set its own regulations. It accepts it will mean less trade in services between the UK and EU. 
  • Continued co-operation on energy and transport, a ‘common rulebook’ on state aid and commitments to maintain high standards of environmental and workplace protections. 
  • A security deal allowing continued UK participation in Europol and Eurojust, ‘co-ordination’ of UK and EU policies on foreign affairs, defence and development.
  • Continued use of the EHIC health insurance card. 

Currently numbers are running at around 270,000 annually, with inflows from outside the EU significantly outstripping those from within the bloc, despite the government having more scope to impose controls. 

Laying down the gauntlet to both Brexiteer and Remainer MPs who have been criticising her approach, Mrs May said if they voted down her deal they would not get a better one.

‘When we come to it, I think parliament will vote for a deal because people will see the importance of a deal that maintains a good trading relationship with the EU… but gives us the freedom to take the benefits and opportunities of Brexit,’ she said.

‘We’ve been through this negotiation, we get to the point where we’ve agreed a deal that if parliaments was to say no go back and get a better one, do you really think the European Union is going to give a better deal at that point?’  

Under the new plan from Brussels, goods could be tracked using barcodes on shipping containers under ‘trusted-trader’ schemes – effectively removing the need for new border infrastructure.

The proposals are expected to be circulated in early October after Conservative Party conference.

Up to now the EU has insisted that Northern Ireland must stay within its jurisdiction for many customs and single market rules in order to avoid a hard border.

But Mrs May has insisted no UK Prime Minister could ever accept a border in the Irish Sea that could put the union at risk, and her DUP allies in government are vehemently opposed.

Instead, she has suggested a ‘facilitated’ customs arrangement that would see the whole UK accept EU rules for goods and collect some taxes on behalf of the bloc.

The new EU draft could unlock the negotiations as it makes clear that most checks would not take place at any particular border. 

Sabine Weyand, Mr Barnier’s deputy, told the ambassadors: ‘For the main part, these controls would not have to happen at a border. 

‘It is to be expected that the reach of the backstop would decrease anyway in case of an agreement about the future relationship.’

Brussels is drafting the plan to prevent Scottish nationalists from demanding the same arrangements – a major concern of the UK.

However, the solution is still specific to Northern Ireland, rather than covering the whole UK as the government wants.


EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (pictured last week) is said to be drafting a new ‘protocol’ text that includes the use of technology to minimise checks at the Irish border

Despite the evidence of a thaw in talks, Mr Johnson warned that Britain is heading full throttle for a ‘write-off’ Brexit if it continues with Mrs May’s ‘disastrous’ plan.

The backstop deadlock is being used to force the UK into becoming a vassal state and the talks are on course to end in a ‘spectacular political car crash’, according to the former foreign secretary.

Mr Johnson said the European Union’s fallback position for the Irish border would mean Northern Ireland was ‘annexed’ by Brussels.

How would the new EU plan for the Irish border work after Brexit? 

Under the new plan from Brussels, goods could be tracked using barcodes on shipping containers under ‘trusted-trader’ schemes – effectively removing the need for new border infrastructure.  

The proposals are expected to be circulated in early October after Conservative Party conference.

Up to now the EU has insisted that Northern Ireland must stay within its jurisdiction for many customs and single market rules in order to avoid a hard border.

But Mrs May has insisted no UK Prime Minister could ever accept a hard border in the Irish Sea that could put the union at risk, and her DUP allies in government are vehemently opposed.

Instead, she has suggested a ‘facilitated’ customs arrangement that would see the whole UK accept EU rules for goods and collect some taxes on behalf of the bloc.

The new EU draft could unlock the negotiations as it makes clear that most checks would not take place at any particular border. 

Sabine Weyand, Mr Barnier’s deputy, told ambassadors: ‘For the main part, these controls would not have to happen at a border.

‘It is to be expected that the reach of the backstop would decrease anyway in case of an agreement about the future relationship.’

Brussels is drafting the plan to prevent Scottish nationalists from demanding the same arrangements – a major concern of the UK.

However, the solution is still specific to Northern Ireland, rather than covering the whole UK as the government wants.

Alternative plans set out by Mrs May would ‘effectively’ keep Britain in the bloc, he added.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove described the PM’s divisive Chequers plan as the ‘right one for now’ and suggested it could be altered by a future leader.

But Mr Johnson said the exit proposals were taking the country in the wrong direction.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said: ‘If the Brexit negotiations continue on this path they will end, I am afraid, in a spectacular political car crash.’

‘If we are to get out of this mess, and get the great British motor back on track, then we need to understand the Irish backstop, and how it is being used to coerce the UK into becoming a vassal state of Brussels,’ he added.

The EU’s backstop would leave a border down the Irish sea while the UK’s proposal left it ‘volunteering’ to ‘remain effectively in the customs union and large parts of the single market until Brussels says otherwise’, Mr Johnson said.

‘Both versions of the backstop are disastrous,’ he wrote. ‘One threatens the union; the other version – and its close cousin, Chequers – keep us effectively in the EU, as humiliated rules takers.

‘We need to challenge the assumptions of both these Irish backstops, or we are heading full throttle for the ditch with a total write-off of Brexit.

‘We are straining at the gnat of the Irish border problem – in fact we haven’t even tried to chew the gnat – and we are swallowing the camel of EU membership in all but name.’

Mr Johnson said that if Chequers was adopted ‘it would mean that for the first time since 1066 our leaders were deliberately acquiescing in foreign rule’.

But the PM’s spokesman gave the criticism short shrift – suggesting Mr Johnson was engaged in political manoeuvring. 

‘I think it is worth pointing out that Boris Johnson was a member of the Cabinet which agreed to the December joint report, including the backstop,’ the spokesman said. 

‘At the time he congratulated the prime minister for her determination in securing the deal.’ 


Cabinet ministers hope that a shift in the mood from EU politicians on free movement rules could help the UK in negotiations. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is pictured left with Michel Barnier in Brussels last month


Theresa May, pictured with Nick Robinson, has told the BBC she is irritated about leadership speculation as she pushes her Brexit deal

 

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