David Davis has not ruled out preferential treatment for EU migrants post-Brexit – this could be a warning alarm for Brexiteers who want to see migration reduced to manageable levels with a system that doesn’t discriminate between EU and non-EU migrants.
Davis was interviewed by Andrew Neil at a Spectator event and was asked a couple of times to rule out preferential treatment for EU migrants, but refused.
Andrew Neil in conversation with David Davis: tonight’s discussion already live as a podcast https://t.co/OQaAwofFFS
— Fraser Nelson (@FraserNelson) March 28, 2018
He said: “I’m not doing that negotiation here. There will be an end to free movement but the aim of the exercise is to run our own migration policy in our own interests and in the economic interests of the nation. We’re not going to switch off all engineers or even farm workers because the effect of that would be to damage an industry.”
Regarding Eastern European countries, Davis said: “We may well have some deal with them but the deal is subject to Parliament and it will be our decision, it won’t be open ended.”
David Davis, quite deliberately, won't rule out preferential treatment for EU citizens when it comes to immigration post-Brexit
— James Forsyth (@JGForsyth) March 28, 2018
When asked outright about preferential access he said again that he wouldn’t have that negotiation here and then went on about a future UK/EU trade deal being more about standards than immigration. So he’s kept the door open.
This will be a concern for Brexiteers – if a post-Brexit trade relationship with Brussels is subject to preferential immigration rules for EU nationals then it may well not lead to the drastic cut in net migration that people are hoping for. Brexiteers will need some reassurance that we’re not about to go on a system resembling open borders.