May Leaves Door Open to Free Movement in Brexit Transition DealBy
U.K. is under pressure to take back control of immigration
Rights of EU citizens is a thorny issue to tackle in talks
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May left open the possibility that freedom of movement could be part of a transitional agreement with the European Union if divorce talks aren’t concluded within the two years allotted.
A temporary arrangement would take effect in March 2019, when the the U.K. is officially out of the bloc, and would hold until a permanent trade deal is struck between the two sides. There is a growing acknowledgement that the formal mechanism to quit the EU, which May triggered March 29, might not allow enough time to untangle many of the sticking points.
On a trip to the Middle East, May was asked specifically about whether EU citizens should still have a right to come to the U.K., and vice versa, during this interim 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,” May told reporters as she flew to Amman on Monday.
This bridge -- the U.K. call it an implementation period, the EU refers to it as a transitional arrangement -- could last any number of years depending on how negotiations develop. Both sides seem to want to put a time limit on it, with three years one recently floated figure.