EU free movement could continue for 'a period of time', hints Theresa May
Theresa May hints at continued EU free movement after Brexit during "implementation phase"
Theresa May - Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Britain could continue to accept the free movement of people from the EU for years after Brexit, Theresa May has hinted.
The Prime Minister said an “implementation” phase would follow an exit deal with the bloc that would allow governments and business a “period of time” to adjust.
Asked about the immigration terms of a transitional period after Brexit, May said: “You've used the phrase transitional phase; I have used the phrase implementation period.
“Once we've got the deal, once we've agreed what the new relationship will be for the future, it will be necessary for there to be a period of time when businesses and governments are adjusting systems and so forth, depending on the nature of the deal – but a period of time when that deal will be implemented.”
It has been suggested that a transitional deal would last until at least 2022, with Brexit scheduled to take place in 2019.
But speaking during her trip to Saudi Arabia, May insisted Britain would be controlling its own immigration policy.
“What is crucial for the British public, what was part of the vote that they took last year, was that they want to ensure that we have control of our borders and control of our immigration,” she said.
“That's exactly what we will do when we come out of the European Union.”
She also brushed off questions about when a final trade deal with the EU would be locked down, after her proposed fast-track negotiating timetable was rejected by the bloc.
Paul Blomfield, Labour’s Brexit spokesman, accused the Prime Minister of seeking to “downplay expectations”.
“It is less than a week since the Prime Minister triggered Article 50, and it seems every day brings another broken promise,” he said.
“They need to spell out the transitional deal that will be in place, to stop the economy falling off a cliff edge without new agreements in two years' time.”
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