Theresa May: I should not have said EU citizens 'jump the queue' when they come to the UK

Posted On: 
26th November 2018

Theresa May has admitted she was wrong to say European Union citizens “jump the queue” under current migration rules, following a backlash from opponents.

Theresa May faced MPs in the Commons today
PA Images

In another bruising Commons session, the Prime Minister told MPs she “should not have used that language” when addressing business leaders on Britain’s post-Brexit migration policy, but defended the argument that migrants should be judged on their “skills and contribution”.

The PM was heavily criticised after she told the CBI conference last week that after Brexit "it will no longer be the case that EU nationals, regardless of the skills or experience they have to offer, can jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi”.

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SNP MP Philippa Whitford lashed out at the “thoughtless and insulting comments” as she called on Mrs May to apologise to those, who like her German GP husband, had made the UK their home.

“I should not have used that language in that speech," Mrs May told MPs this afternoon.

"I think there was a point that for most people here in the United Kingdom, they want to see people coming to this country with the skills and wanting to make a contribution and her husband has made a contribution as a GP here in this country.

“They want people to be judged, as we will, on their skills and contribution to our economy rather than simply where they come from.”

The Prime Minister was updating parliament a day after a special EU Council took under 40 minutes to formally ratify the deal struck between British and European negotiators following two years of talks.

Mrs May is under increasing pressure from MPs over fears that her Brexit deal could be defeated when it comes before the Commons on 11 December.

All opposition parties, including the DUP who she relies on to prop up her minority government, have said they will vote down the deal, as have dozens of Conservative MPs.