Saturday

21st Oct 2017

UK seeks 'unique' EU relations, migrant controls

  • May at Chequers: "We must continue to be very clear that 'Brexit means Brexit', that we’re going to make a success of it" (Photo: 10 Downing Street)

The British government has said it would not accept free movement of EU workers after Brexit, but still wanted “unique” access to the single market.

A spokeswoman for British prime minister Theresa May outlined the position after May’s cabinet met for post-summer talks at her official retreat, Chequers, in London on Wednesday (31 August).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“Several cabinet members made it clear that we are leaving the EU but not leaving Europe, with a decisive view that the model we are seeking is one unique to the United Kingdom and not an off-the-shelf solution,” the spokeswoman said.

“This must mean controls on the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe but also a positive outcome for those who wish to trade goods and services”.

The PM herself said there was no question of undoing the EU referendum.

“We must continue to be very clear that ‘Brexit means Brexit’, that we’re going to make a success of it. That means there’s no second referendum; no attempts to sort of stay in the EU by the back door; that we’re actually going to deliver on this”, she said at Chequers.

“We’ll also be looking at the opportunities that are now open to us as we forge a new role for the UK in the world”, she added.

The hard line on EU migrants was matched by an equally hard line against Brexit opponents at home.

The PM’s office ruled out holding a vote on leaving the EU in parliament, where many MPs oppose the move, and said that Northern Ireland and Scotland, which had voted to remain, would not be able to veto the process.

“There was a strong emphasis on pushing ahead to article 50 to lead Britain successfully out of the European Union - with no need for a parliamentary vote,” May’s spokeswoman said, referring to the EU treaty clause that governs the procedure.

“Cabinet members were clear that it is the United Kingdom’s government’s decision to establish its terms and on when to trigger article 50”, she added.

EU red lines

Top EU officials and some EU leaders, such as French president Francois Hollande, have said the UK cannot block free movement of people and keep full market access.

But the European Commission’s vice-president, Frans Timmermans, said in an interview with the AFP news agency also on Wednesday that the EU wanted an amicable outcome.

“The United Kingdom is not going anywhere. It’s going to be geographically where it is now. The Channel is not going to get any broader,” he said.

“So, in that sense, the UK will remain a European country even if it’s not a member of the European Union and that should be the basis, I believe, for the negotiations.”

The British opposition reacted angrily to May’s decision on the parliamentary vote

“It is sheer, high-handed arrogance for them to say they will take all the decisions themselves, with no consultation of parliament or the public, with the devolved administrations consulted but not listened to,” the opposition Labour Party’s shadow foreign minister, Emily Thornberry, said.

But the Labour party’s power to hold the government to account has weakened amid internal wrangling over its own leadership.

A new ICM/Guardian poll on Wednesday put May’s Tory party on 41 percent, with Labour slipping one point to 27 percent.

’Existential issue’

Timmermans did voice frustration that the UK, two months after the referendum, still had no detailed Brexit plan.

“They should … get their act together and tell us what they really want out of this”, he said. “The onus is on the country that decides to leave to tell us how they want to leave”.

He also warned that the British vote to “take back control” risked tearing the EU apart as other member states pondered what they want from Europe.

“This is an existential issue for the whole of Europe, not just for the UK”, he said.

The Dutch politician, who oversees issues relating to justice and EU values, said the nature of the Brexit campaign, which had compared the EU to Nazi Germany, had created a difficult “dynamic in British society”.

His comments came after the murder in Harlow, in southeast England, of Arkadiusz Jozwik, a Polish immigrant, earlier this week in what police are investigating as a potential hate crime.

The killing came amid a sharp increase in hate speech against Polish nationals and vandalism of Polish shops in the wake of the EU referendum.

“Some people in the Polish community are frightened about what happened”, Ivona Schulz-Nalepka, the director of a Polish school in Harlow, told the BBC.

Column / Brexit Briefing

UK cannot have and eat EU cake

The UK’s two main demands: migration control and single market access are irreconcilable. Something will have to give.

King to become UK's last EU commissioner

British diplomat put forward "intelligent" security plan to a half-empty EP committee, but refused to speculate on Brexit in his three-hour hearing.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Brexiteers still hunting for a strategy

Ten weeks after British voters decided to leave the EU, the government has still no idea what to do, but at least Labour has finally found a position.

EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks

The EU has launched internal preparations for phase two of Brexit talks, but a December breakthrough only possible if UK gives more detail on divorce issues first.

Analysis

May on mission impossible in Brussels

UK prime minister called on other EU leaders to "step forward together", but she has almost nothing to offer them except the threat of walking away.

EU rejects UK claim it's slowing Brexit talks

The EU is "not confident, but hopeful" that the UK will achieve sufficient progress for 'stage 2' by December, as Britain's Brexit negotiator blames the slow pace of negotiations on the EU ahead of a crucial summit meeting.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  2. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving up to 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  5. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  9. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  10. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  11. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  12. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  3. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  4. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  5. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  6. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  7. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  11. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups