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UK negotiators planning 'very similar' post-Brexit migration system

2 min read

British negotiators are reportedly drawing up plans to allow EU citizens "very similar" access to the UK as they enjoy under current free movement rules - in a move likely to spark outrage from pro-Brexit MPs.

The UK side in the exit talks is reportedly planning to table a proposal which would see European citizens coming into Britain given visa-free travel after the country leaves the EU.

According to The Independent, EU citizens coming to the UK after Brexit would then be able to apply for the right to work under a special status, with the UK government retaining an 'emergency brake' to curb EU migration in the national interest if needed.

A more limited 'emergency brake' designed to curb access to benefits by EU migrants was a key part of David Cameron's failed renegotiation of the UK's membership before the 2016 Brexit vote.

The plan is being pitched as a way to break the current deadlock in talks over the UK's exit, and will reportedly be tabled at a European Council meeting in June.

A Brussels source told The Independent: “The British have said that this idea could get things moving again, and that it looks very similar to free movement. We will see.”

A UK government source added: "Civil servants have been looking at how to give talks some momentum and dealing with this issue is a way to do it."

The Sunday Times meanwhile reports that embattled Home Secretary Amber Rudd - who is already under intense pressure over her department's handling of deportations - has given her backing to a new "labour mobility partnership" with the EU which would give citizens coming to the UK from the bloc preferential access to public services and the jobs market.

A leaked Cabinet document - reportedly drawn up by the Home Office and Cabinet Office and presented to senior ministers last month - says the UK could offer Brussels "a labour mobility partnership encompassing social security, reciprocal healthcare and other rights".

It adds: "The UK should develop its immigration framework outside of negotiations whilst retaining flexibility on this if it proves advantageous during broader negotiations."

Both proposals are likely to be highly controversial with Brexit-backing MPs, and one member of the influential European Research Group has already told The Sunday Times: “The plan seems to be to re-badge what we’ve got at the moment, so that no control would have been taken back.”

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