Theresa May blasted for lauding the end of free movement for Britons across EU

British Prime Minister Theresa May is busy trying to sell her Brexit deal by lauding the fact it will bring an end to free movement but preventing Britons from being able to freely move abroad and settle in the future has not gone down well with those who have taken advantage of the right in recent years.

Theresa May blasted for lauding the end of free movement for Britons across EU
Photo: AP

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.”

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.

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?

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.




Member comments

  1. This is the first time I’ve seen English speaking media concern itself with Briton’s freedom of movement. The referendum was not about denying access to EU citizens in UK or vice versa. It seems we’ve lost all the perks, none of the bills or responsibilities, all the freedoms, none of the obligations, all say in our future (not if, when we cede the right to manage fish stocks in UK waters by means of factors to do with conservation, and nmot a virtual limiit based on a bureaucrats estimate of supply, Each year, season, climate change, feeding and breeding cycle is different. North Sea and Scottish Fisheries should have an on going final say over British waters, not Brussels or the British govt. Future frish stocks affect all of us and are the responsibility of those who’ve always taken care of them. Fishing is a delicate balance, like agriculture, energy, ecology. It is not a bargaining chip, quotas divvied up, compensation for a bad Brexit deal. Each country is responsible for its own coastal waters.

  2. Of course the same applies to other nations’ fish stocks and exploitation of stocks. When the British fishermen went to try to deprive the French of their scallop harvest – which is determined at the time of optimum growth after the breeding cycle has completed – the Brits went before the Coquilles Saint Jacques had reached full size, and prevented quite some from breeding, potentially damaging future harvests…
    This is an example whereby autonomy over managed stocks must be respected, and of course the assets belong to the host nation, before others are invited to share in the ‘recolte’. The same applies to scottish herring, salmon or lobster…
    This is just an indication how tricky negotiations are and how they must be approached in a spirit of solidarity, ecology, sustainability and preservation. With good neighbourliness – a European principle – this is understood. But a spirit of competition, of pugnaciousness, of dissonance, can only exacerbate problems that have brought this world to the state of dire calamity, through brinkmanship and leadership based on vying and jostling for the top place. This is the sad flaw in the human race, that the European Union, and the WTO, was envisaged to overcome and compensate for…
    If we as Brits are to leave the Union, we should not lose sight of our own evolution as human beings, or leave the spirit of uniting in our common humanity on this, our one single planet, a brilliant jewel, orbiting our one, single, beautiful sun. We must take care, and share, what we have, rationally. If we are leaving the union, we need to learn how to communicate among ourselves, so we can come to the table with our European cousins as wise statesmen, not squabbling, egotistical children, exploiting our own people and anyone else we can take advantage of.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport.