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May: EU citizens might get preferred treatment post-Brexit

AP  |  London 

touted the benefits of her latest proposal to create a partial free trade zone between the U.K. and the European Union, saying it is possible EU citizens would receive preferential treatment for employment after Britain leaves the bloc.

May told the that the plan, which her fractious Cabinet endorsed after a marathon meeting, would allow Britain to make good on its commitments while still protecting British economic interests.

She said the commitment to end the free movement of people would be met, the jurisdiction of the in the U.K. would be curtailed, and the U.K. no longer would send "vast sums of money" to the EU every year.

These and other provisions would meet the public expectations for what would entail, she said.

"But we'll do it in a way that protects...and enhances our economy for the future," May said.

She said her government would "decide" whether EU citizens would receive special consideration to live and work in Britain after the country leaves the EU, a prospect that may anger people in the U.K. who favor a complete break and a substantial reduction in immigration.

The government says the new plan agreed to by the Cabinet late Friday will be detailed in a formal government document next week and negotiated with EU leaders. May hopes it will jumpstart the acrimonious discussions about the terms of Brexit.

May is seeking to squelch public dissent from colleagues by warning ministers she will no longer tolerate public criticism of government policy now that the Cabinet has backed her.

"She's made it very clear that if people can't stick to her position then they should go, and I think that's good," said today.

May said after the Cabinet meeting that her ministers Cabinet endorsed plans for a future free-trade deal with the that would keep some close ties to the bloc even as it ends freedom of movement between Britain and the EU. The proposal would allow free movement of goods, but not of services.

The agreement hammered out at the prime minister's country residence resolves for the moment a long-running dispute within the Cabinet over whether to sever all ties with the EU or seek a more limited Brexit to help businesses accustomed to trading with without customs payments or burdensome paperwork.

Since becoming nearly two years ago, May whose party does not enjoy a majority in Parliament has endured outspoken criticism from senior ministers, most notably Boris Johnson, who wants a total rupture with the EU.

She has now signaled however, in a letter to legislators, that ministers who dissent in public will be dismissed now that "collective responsibility" has been restored.

The plan brings May squarely down on the side those favoring a "soft" Brexit that would make it easier for many businesses to operate without new barriers being erected between Britain and

It's unclear how EU negotiators will react to the plan, which seems to fly in the face of EU warnings that the UK cannot pick and choose which aspects of EU membership it would like to keep, and it is already angering hard-line Brexiteers who advocate a total break with the EU.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, July 08 2018. 01:00 IST