EU news and policy debates across languages


May reaffirms desire for controlled immigration, accused of nationalism

UK & Europe

May reaffirms desire for controlled immigration, accused of nationalism

Theresa May's comment about being a "citizen of the world, a citizen of nowhere" has not gone down well.


British Prime Minister Theresa May said today (5 October) she wants a Brexit deal which offers “maximum freedom” to operate in Europe’s single market but again reiterated the need for immigration control. Her final speech also caused a backlash, with May being accused of indulging in nationalism.

May’s demands are contradictory for European leaders, who have emphasised that access to the single market is dependent on allowing free movement of workers.

“I want to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate within the single market and let European businesses do the same thing here,” May told the Conservative party conference.

But she added: “We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration all over again and we’re not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice”.

May told delegates in Birmingham on Sunday (2 October) that she would trigger negotiations with Brussels to leave the EU before the end of March, opening the door for a possible withdrawal in early 2019.

Live: EU begins to talk life after UK

The negotiations haven’t even started yet, with the now infamous Article 50 yet to be triggered by Theresa May’s government. Things are starting to take shape and the news will come thick and fast. Follow EurActiv’s live feed for all the latest developments and talking points.

The announcement sent the pound plunging against the euro and dollar but stocks have soared since a weaker pound has helped boost British exporters.

“It’s going to be a tough negotiation. It will require some give and take,” May added.

While she has given little away about her negotiating strategy, her government is seen by analysts as moving towards a “hard” Brexit, which could involve limited, if any, access to Europe’s single market in return for more control over immigration.

May and her government has been on the end of fierce criticism over the last 24 hours and is facing a backlash over plans to “name and shame” British companies that employ foreign workers over British candidates.

The prime minister was also criticised today of peddling “pure nationalism” after her closing speech at the party conference, where she said that “if you believe that you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere”.