JeeMagazine: EU citizens will no longer be given priority to live and work in Britain in a radical overhaul of immigration policy after Brexit, Theresa May has said, admitting Britons may in turn have to apply for US-style visas to visit and work in Europe.
Theresa May said the terms of the final deal with the EU could include mobility concessions, but said this would be within the control of the British government.
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, said the government might consider dropping the cap on high-skilled visas altogether, a move recommended by a Migration Advisory Committee report.
Announcing the policy overnight, May said it “ends freedom of movement once and for all”, and that British tourists and workers would also be likely to face restrictions travelling in the EU, depending on the final outcome of the Brexit talks.
However, when questioned during a morning tour of broadcasters about the difficulties UK citizens might face when travelling to Europe, she would only say it was “part of the negotiations”.
She did not rule out Britons having to apply for US-style visa waiver forms to visit the EU after Brexit, saying she expected arrangements to be “reciprocal”.
Under the policy, she said, highly skilled workers who wanted to live and work in Britain would be given priority, while low-skilled immigration would be curbed, though the final terms are expected to be subject to the Brexit negotiations.
May said, she was not ruling out mobility concessions as part of a future Brexit deal, and that tourism and business travel were a component of the negotiations.
“In any trade deal countries do, there are normally parts of that which are about things like movement of business people, and so forth,” she said. “But if we do a deal like that with the European Union, those elements will be open for trade deals with others as well.”
Current government policy is to allow 20,700 high-skilled workers into the UK each year on tier 2 visas. Speaking at a fringe meeting on Tuesday, Javid said he would be looking at “better ways” of controlling migration than a restrictive cap. “I will consider that. We’ve not made a decision yet,” he said.
May said the government wanted British people to fill the vacancies in areas such as hospitality and social care, which rely heavily on EU migrants, effectively ruling out an exemption for certain sectors.
“We’ll ensure we recognize the needs of the economy,” she said. “If you look at these low-skilled areas, we hope there will be the ability to train people here in the UK to take jobs.”
May said the government was already piloting a seasonal scheme for agricultural workers but said she was reluctant to commit to exemptions for other sectors