Will Theresa May allow preferential treatment for EU citizens after brexit?

Under the most recent plan for the future of UK-EU relations, which was agreed and announced last week by Theresa May, unlimited freedom of movement will end. Despite having numerous options when it comes to a future trade partnership, many of which would have to include the free movement of people, the prime minister said in a speech that this is most likely not on the table going forward.

But, with the EU and UK being so closely tied, could a deal be made that would still give EU citizens preferential treatment over immigrants from outside of Europe. The prime minister hasn’t ruled it out. She said: “We recognise that people will still want to have opportunities in each other’s countries. We are going to decide. What we’re going to do is say what works for the UK, what’s right for the United Kingdom?”

Of course, this has been met with opposition from “brexiteers”. For example, the European Research Group (ERG), who are a group of Eurosceptic Conservative MP’s in the UK said that the idea of allowing some special treatment when it comes to immigration “would lead directly to a worst-of-all-worlds black hole Brexit”. Theresa May’s response to this was: “Collective responsibility has returned… we are moving forward together.”

So, what’s next for the negotiations? When commenting on the document outlining the proposals, Theresa May said: “From the soundings I’ve had so far, there is a willingness to sit down and talk about this and a recognition that actually we now are in the stage where we need to agree what the future relationship’s going to be. This is a serious, workable proposal”. This plan will now have to be taken to the other EU countries so they can be discussed further.

The proposals include the UK accepting “harmonisation” with the current EU rules for trade for goods where it would be necessary to continue trading frictionlessly. Additionally, there would be different trade arrangements for services including financial services and a new customs agreement would be phased in with the goal being “a combined customs territory”. Although freedom of movement would end under these proposals, there may be a “mobility framework” which would make sure citizens could travel, apply for work and study.

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