U.K.'s Fox Demands No Special Deal for EU Migrants After Brexit

(Bloomberg) -- European Union citizens should have no special access to the U.K. when a new migration regime comes into force after Brexit, according to International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.

A longstanding euroskeptic, Fox said Prime Minister Theresa May’s government hasn’t decided what kind of mobility arrangements to put in place for Europeans who want to come to Britain to work once it leaves the EU. But he gave his own view, which risks further fueling a public split in May’s team.

Businesses should be able to “access any part of the global talent pool equally without having preferential access to EU citizens,” Fox said following a speech in Washington, D.C. at the Heritage Foundation think tank. “But that’s a debate we still have to have in the U.K. in terms of policy.”

Controlling immigration was the totemic issue in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and May said on Wednesday that ending the EU’s regime of “free movement” of people is a “non-negotiable” red line in talks, to reflect the voters’ decision.

The Telegraph newspaper reported on July 20 that Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond wanted “preferential” treatment for EU workers after Brexit, but Home Secretary Sajid Javid disagreed.

May has commissioned an independent panel to look into the kind of migration regime the U.K. will need after it leaves the EU. The body is scheduled to issue its recommendations in the Fall. However, May’s team is already moving toward setting up a system offering favorable access to EU citizens.

A government white paper setting out May’s detailed proposals, published on July 12, outlined a new “framework” for “mobility” of people between the U.K. and the EU. “Given the depth of the relationship and close ties between the peoples of the U.K. and the EU, the U.K. will make a sovereign choice in a defined number of areas to seek reciprocal mobility arrangements with the EU,” it said.

This should be “in line with arrangements that the U.K. might want to offer to other close trading partners in the future, where they support new and deep trade deals,” it said.

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