British Government Divided on Free Movement After Brexit
LONDON – In order to allow free movement of people after Britain’s abandonment, the European Union “would not trust” Brexit’s vote, the Secretary for International Trade said, underscoring the government’s divisions on the issue.
Liam Fox told the Sunday Times that government ministers did not reach a consensus on maintaining the free movement of people during a transitional period, a proposal described Friday by Finance Minister Philip Hammond.
Hammond had said that there should be no immediate change in immigration laws or negotiation when Britain will leave the EU in March 2019 and that the status quo could last until mid-2022.
“If there was any discussion about it, I would not let it,” Fox said in the newspaper.
“I have participated in any discussion about it, nor did I serve my consent for something like that.”
Divisions between ministers on Brexit’s strategy have become more open after Theresa’s prime minister has lost his majority in the early elections was called in June. With May parties, the debate has intensified.
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Hammond has led the government to ensure a favorable Brexit companies avoid a sudden change in 2019 in relations between Britain and the EU, which buys almost half of its exports.
Fox had previously said he supported a transitional agreement to ease the release of Britain’s trade bloc, but on Sunday he said freedom of movement should not continue.
“We have made it clear that control of our own borders was one of the things we wanted in the referendum, and it does not seem like free flow regulation of the freedom to keep faith in this decision,” the Sunday Times said.
“It can not be done by an individual or group within the company,” he said.
An ally of British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has also spoken out against the Hammond map on Sunday.
Gérard Lyons, Johnson’s former economic adviser when he was mayor of London, said a transition period would not last more than two years.
“Many of the” risks “that stand out in Brexit are perceived risks, not real risks, and a two-year transition to alleviate many concerns,” Lyons said in a Sunday Telegraph column.
A growing number of other ministers said they agreed on the need for a transitional period, but Johnson – who advocated a difficult approach to Brexit negotiations – has been silent on the issue recently.
At the end of Friday, Hammond and Johnson issued a joint statement saying they were working together to get the UK to the EU and its internal market, customs union and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The communiqué does not mention the transitional provisions.