Brexit: UK to insist on control over EU immigration

Theresa May indicates state prepared to exit single market for ‘full independence’

Following the British PM’s Brexit announcement the Government said its focus would be relations between the two parts of Ireland as well as on the Common Travel Area and the impact on trade. Photographs: The Irish Times

Following the British PM’s Brexit announcement the Government said its focus would be relations between the two parts of Ireland as well as on the Common Travel Area and the impact on trade. Photographs: The Irish Times

 

Theresa May has made clear that the UK will insist on controlling immigration from the European Union after Brexit, even if that means leaving the European single market.

The prime minister told the Conservative party conference in Birmingham she will invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty before the end of next March, triggering the start of up to two years of formal withdrawal negotiations.

Ms May promised to introduce a Great Repeal Bill next year, repealing the 1972 European Communities Act and transposing all EU laws into British law. Although the Bill will be presented to parliament before next summer, it will not take effect until after the UK has left the EU.

The prime minister sought to play down the choice between a “hard” and a “soft” Brexit but left no doubt that her government will seek a more decisive break with the EU than many in business and among her own party’s Europhiles would wish.

Sovereignty

“The process we are about to begin is not about negotiating all of our sovereignty away again,” she said. “It is not going to be about any of those matters over which the country has just voted to regain control.”

She said the UK would not follow the model of Norway or Switzerland, which have full access to the single market but must pay into the EU budget and offer free movement to all EU citizens.

Ms May said the UK would insist on regaining control of immigration and leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

“We have voted to leave the European Union and become a fully independent, sovereign country. We will do what independent, sovereign countries do. We will decide for ourselves how we control immigration. And we will be free to pass our own laws,” she said.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan welcomed the “clarity” Ms May had provided on Brexit.

Common Travel Area

He said the Government was focused on the likely impact Brexit would have on the Border and relations between the two parts of Ireland as well as on the Common Travel Area and the likely impact on trade.

“I have spoken to all my Government colleagues and asked them to get involved in intensive engagement with their counterparts in Northern Ireland,” he said.