Prime Minister claims EU migrants “jumping the queue”
In an announcement earlier this week, Theresa May continued her efforts to promote the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement by stating that it will prevent migrants from EU countries from “jumping the queue”. In an attempt to reassure MPs and the public alike, the Prime Minister continued to say that her Brexit deal would see immigration requirements based upon skills-based considerations, and that European applicants would no longer receive priority over “engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi”.
The Prime Minister continued to discuss the effects of the draft deal on the ability of the UK government to control immigration by stating that: “In the future, outside the EU, immigration will continue to make a positive contribution to our national life, but the difference will be this – once we have left the EU, we will be fully in control of who comes here.”
The announcement from the government comes at a time when many MPs, including a significant number from within the Conservative Party, are increasing the call for changes to be made to the draft deal. Despite the reservations from many across the political spectrum, Mrs May spoke further to influential corporate leaders at the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) and insisted that her draft Brexit withdrawal deal has been “agreed in full”.
The latest statements from Mrs May and the UK government have faced widespread criticism. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the prime minister’s language was “offensive” and “disgraceful” as a description of a reciprocal right of free movement. The European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt also criticised Mrs May, observing: “EU citizens living, working, contributing to UK communities, didn’t ‘jump the queue’ and neither did UK nationals in Europe,” he said. “They were exercising rights which provided freedom and opportunities.”
Over the past week, two ministers from the cabinet have resigned in protest against the terms of the draft Brexit deal, whilst there are rumours that many others within the cabinet are attempting to force an alteration in the wording of the 585-page proposed agreement.
Despite the widespread reservations surrounding the draft deal, the president of the CBI, John Allan, has issued a call for MPs to back Mrs May’s agreement. He warned that although the proposed deal is not “perfect”, the alternative of a no-deal Brexit would have serious ramifications for the health of UK businesses and the economy as a whole. As the political climate surrounding Brexit remains volatile and uncertain, it still remains to be seen what the effect of the UK’s exit from the EU will be on immigration.