Theresa May tees up Brussels battle by insisting free movement must end in 2019

Posted On: 
1st February 2018

Theresa May has vowed to end free movement on the day Britain quits the European Union - teeing up a fresh battle with Brussels.

Theresa May has insisted that free movement will end next year
Credit: 
PA

Speaking to reporters during a trip to China, the Prime Minister said EU citizens entering the UK would be subject to different rules after Britain exits the bloc in March next year.

This is despite EU chiefs saying free movement must continue during until the Brexit transition period ends in December 2020.  

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Mrs May said: “I’m clear there is a difference between those who came prior to us leaving and those who will come when they know the UK is leaving.”

However, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier insisted on Monday that Britain would have to accept the “status quo” during the two-year handover, including rules on freedom of movement.

"It will continue to have all the economic benefits therefore it must also apply all the EU rules. The single market cannot be a la carte,” he said.

This comes as further leaked government documents on the impact of Brexit, seen by Buzzfeed News, show that the cost of cutting EU migration would be much greater than the benefits of a securing a US trade deal.

The analysis suggests that while a transatlantic trade agreement would boost economic growth by about 0.2% over the next 15 years, that gain would be more than wiped out by a stricter immigration policy for EU citizens.

Labour’s Tulip Siddiq said: "This latest leak shows what a catastrophe the government's Brexit plans are in…

"Theresa May and her deluded immigration plan has been blown apart once and for all.

"The government have lied to the public for months about trade deals and Brexit reports. Tonight they have been caught red handed. It is time to make all of this analysis public and stop putting dogma above our economy."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the EU is threatening sanctions to stop Britain undercutting the continent’s economy after Brexit.

According to the FT, the measures, outlined in a leaked strategy paper, show the bloc wants measures in place to preserve a “level playing field” and counter the “clear risks” of Britain cutting taxes or reducing regulation.