British PM Theresa May is under fire from all sides as she launches her sales drive to persuade British MPs and the British public to back the controversial Brexit deal she has agreed with Brussels.
May believes that the deal's biggest selling point is ending the freedom of movement between the EU and Britain which is included as part of the draft declaration on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
The British PM believes the move adequately reflects the result of the 2016 referendum in the UK when 52 percent of the public voted to leave the EU.
Theresa May provoked fury this week when she claimed the end of free movement would mean EU citizens will no longer be able to “jump the queue” ahead of skilled immigrants from other countries.
But while the British PM has lauded the fact EU citizens will lose the right to freely work and settle in the UK, she has spoken little of the fact that Brits will also almost certainly lose the right to move to another EU member state.
Answering questions in parliament this week May was dismissive, insisting that Britain will end free movement and said other countries could do what they wanted.
But given the reciprocal nature of the negotiations, EU countries will almost certainly take back control of their own borders to prevent Britons moving freely to live and work in the EU after the transition period ends in December 2020.
And that has angered many.
Leading the angry reaction to May's stance and her choice of words was campaign group British in Europe who fired off a letter to the Prime Minister this week.
“We now know that you never had any serious intention of protecting our free movement rights because your overriding objective in going ahead with Brexit is to end them.
“And then you pretend – in a promotional video (see below) to sell the agreement – that you have negotiated the end of free movement for EU27 citizens into the UK whilst retaining visa free access to the EU for British citizens.
“As you well know, British citizens will lose free movement too and need a visa to study, live or work in the EU27 but they won’t realise that from your government propaganda.”
This deal ends free movement, and protects jobs, security and our union.
It brings back control of our money, laws and borders.
It delivers on the vote of the referendum. pic.twitter.com/41falQEgPM
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) November 17, 2018
Taking the PM to task for suggesting EU citizens in the UK were “queue jumpers” British in Europe added: ” You tried to set up a nasty 'them and us' comparison with non-EU citizens and you cynically refused to recognise that EU free movement is not the same concept as immigration and is a two way street: the same rights that enable a Spanish surgeon to work in Surrey allow a Scottish surgeon to work in Salamanca.”
And across Twitter there was also an angry reaction towards the loss of freedom of movement that so many Britons have benefited from over the years, including the estimated 1.2 million UK citizens currently living in the EU.
Is it Theresa May’s proud of taking our and our children’s rights away?
She keeps trumpeting the ending of free movement “once and for all” but the only free movement she’s ending is that of her own citizens! EU citizens lose 1/28th of theirs, we lose 100% #BBCAskThis
— Sabrina ????♀️#FBPE #PeoplesVote (@Beany_1) November 23, 2018
Dear @theresa_may you know how you were born in Eastbourne, went to university in Oxford, married someone from Norwich?
I was born in Amsterdam, went to university in Cambridge, married someone from Southampton.
— Monique Hawkins (@monlouhawk) November 22, 2018
Theresa's biggest win: ending our right to free movement and non-discrimination in other EU countries. Extraordinary rights and opportunities taken away from the young.
Appalling. Unforgivable. https://t.co/NZ9uV6PR0p
— Jessica Simor QC (@JMPSimor) November 22, 2018
British people are being told to celebrate the end of free movement.
What an astonishing concept.
It's like celebrating being sent to jail.
— Timo#FBPE#FBR (@timolarch) November 21, 2018
#Brexit #FreeMovement Just appearing on the horizon, what Brexit means. My free movement is in jeopardy due to this stupidity. Take a trip down TV memory lane: Auf Wiedersehem Pet, a reminder of the days when WE NEEDED FREE MOVEMENT. pic.twitter.com/JIO0kFCvEy
— David Bunyard (@David_Bunyard) November 23, 2018
On Friday members of the public were bombarding Radio 5 live with questions for the PM, who was taking part in a live Q&A on the subject of her Brexit deal.
Many questions were from people asking her to explain where was the benefit in stripping young people of the right to move and live freely around the EU?
Why do you think it’s good to give up our right to live, work & travel freely in 27 other countries? How is that a benefit? How can you be proud of that? @theresa_may #StopBrexitSaveBritain #BBCAskThis
— Ming Ho (@Minghowriter) November 23, 2018
Why have you negotiated away the continuing free movement rights of 1.2 million @BritishInEurope who need these rights in their daily lives to earn a living when a deal on this was possible with the EU27? #BBCAskThis
— Fiona Godfrey (@fjgodfrey) November 23, 2018
#BBCAskThis Could the Prime Minister explain why she is celebrating removing rights from the British people as a whole to satisfy a minority.
— BrexpatsHearourVoice (@BrexpatsHOV) November 23, 2018
And there’s our Prime Minister again championing the end of free movement. Incredibly sad that everyone in the UK is losing the right to live, work or travel freely as they wish among 27 other countries. How can this ever be seen as progression?
— James Cain (@JamoCaino) November 23, 2018
Theresa May will be in Brussels on Saturday to try to complete negotiations on the withdrawal agreement in advance of the extraordinary summit with EU leaders on Sunday.
But the Prime Minister's Brexit deal will still have to get the green light from the British parliament when MPs take part in a meaningful vote on in in mid-December.
The numbers suggest she doesn't have enough support to back the deal and if it's rejected that the chances will increase that the UK could crash out of the EU on March 29th without a deal.
That would bring a much swifter end to free movement than the British PM envisages, but it's unlikely even she would celebrate that.