The government is preparing to hand the European Union (EU) even more immigration “concessions” in Brexit talks, after already bowing to almost all of the bloc’s demands on this issue.
EU leaders this week rejected many of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit proposals, including a compromise on the Irish border, remaining in some EU agencies, and allowing the UK to mirror many EU rules for market access.
Instead, they offered the UK only the options of remaining in the Single Market and keeping the Irish border open, or a Canada-style trade deal with a border in the Irish Sea and limited access to markets.
Mrs. May is in a tricky position, and sources have told journalists she is ready to give in on the issue of migration in an attempt to sweeten up the EU. According James Forsyth writing in The Spectator:
Unfortunately, the European Union is about to take a wrecking ball to this carefully constructed compromise.
The EU doesn’t much like its deal with Switzerland and is currently trying to pressure the Swiss into accepting changes. The idea of handing that kind of arrangement to the UK – and without free movement – won’t appeal.
The UK has at least held some things back for the negotiations.
I understand that one paper circulated to senior Cabinet Ministers in recent weeks suggested that if the EU doesn’t bite on May’s proposals, Britain could offer concessions on immigration in an attempt to make them more palatable.
Appeaser Theresa: EU to Have a Say in Setting UK’s Post-Brexit Immigration System https://t.co/xNHmgyBRrU
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 5, 2018
Mrs. May insists she still intends to leave the Single Market and officially end free movement, but maintain high levels of EU immigration for access to markets could be an option she is considering.
The EU is seeking to keep its access to the UK’s labour markets as open as possible, and Mrs. May has already crumbled to their demand to maintain free movement during the two-year so-called Brexit divorce period.
Britain had initially wanted the cut-off date for new migrants being given full rights to be the 29th of March last year, when Article 50 was triggered, to stop a last-minute rush of new arrivals.
In a deal struck in December last year, the EU and UK said they had verbally agreed to set the cut off day as the Brexit date – March 29th, 2019.
However, the EU backtracked in January this year, calling for migrants coming during ‘transition’ to be able to stay, and the Brexit co-ordinator for the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, said last week that limiting migration in the transition would be “unacceptable”.