Theresa May has signalled that free movement of EU citizens could continue during a transitional phase after the UK leaves the European Union in spring 2019.
Speaking during a trip to the Middle East, the prime minister did not rule out the possibility, and instead admitted that there would need to be an “implementation period” to help businesses to adjust.
The European council president, Donald Tusk, has made clear that while the EU27 will be willing to seek transitional arrangements, the “core principles”, including over immigration, must be maintained during that period.
His guidelines suggest that if the UK wishes to stay in the single market while a free trade deal is negotiated and then implemented beyond the two-year formal exit process then free movement will have to remain.
A senior government figure with knowledge of the negotiating process told the Guardian that the wording echoed the fact that “no one serious in Brussels or in the other key capitals” believed a trade deal would be concluded by 2018.
Asked directly to “rule out free movement in any transitional period once we leave the EU”, May said: “You’ve used the phrase transitional phase; I have used the phrase implementation period,” she said, speaking to reporters on the plane during her two-day tour of Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
via The Guardian