Spanish PM warns UK citizens would face EU restrictions after Brexit

Posted On: 
1st June 2016

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy tonight warned that UK citizens would no longer be able to "move freely" around Europe if the Britain quits the EU.

President Mariano Rajoy has painted a grim picture of life outside the EU for Britain
Credit: 
PA Images

He said they would also lose the automatic right to "work and do business" in the bloc's other 27 member states after Brexit.

His comments came after Vote Leve heavyweights Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Priti Patel vowed to introduce a points-based immigration system if voters opt to give up Britain's EU membership on 23 June.

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Under the new regime, migrants would need to prove they can fill skills shortages in the UK jobs market before being granted the right to enter the country.

But speaking to the Spanish national press agency EFE, Mr Rajoy painted a grim picture of life outside the EU.

He said: "I have no doubt whatsoever, as I have repeatedly stated, that it would be very negative if the United Kingdom left the European Union - negative for everybody, for the United Kingdom, for Spain, and for the European Union.

"But, above all, it would be very negative for British citizens: the European Union is based, ever since its foundation, on the principles of freedom of movement of people, goods, services, and capitals. Leaving the European Union would mean that British citizens would lose their right to move freely, work and do business within the largest economic area, the largest market in the world.

"Over 100.000 Spanish citizens work and live in the United Kingdom. Over 400.000 British citizens work and live in Spain. If the United Kingdom left the European Union, it would be very negative for everyone and from every perspective."

Meanwhile, Dutch PM Mark Rutte oday told the BBC that a Brexit followed by the introduction of a points-based immigration system would trigger "an inevitable, unavoidable race to the bottom" among the other EU countries.