Theresa May has rejected a points-based system for controlling EU migration, one of the key promises of Leave campaigners during the referendum. Speaking in China, the PM acknowledged people had voted for more control on the numbers of people moving to the UK.
But she questioned whether a point-based model would work and Number 10 later said it was “not an option”.Mrs May is attending the G20 summit of world leaders in Hangzhou, her first international summit as prime minister.
Although Mrs May supported remaining in the EU, she has said that the Brexit vote must be respected and suggested that curbs on the current free movement of EU citizens into the UK would be a red line in future negotiations with the EU.
But she told journalists in China that exercising greater control did not necessarily mean an Australian-style points system for deciding the number of skilled and unskilled workers who could come into the UK every year from the EU and beyond – with numbers to be determined by MPs.Asked whether she was concerned this was too blunt an instrument, she replied: “One of the issues is whether or not points-based systems do work. A lot of people talk about a points-based system as always being the answer in immigration.
Her spokesman went further, saying: “The precise way in which the government will control the movement of EU nationals to Britain after Brexit is yet to be determined. However, as the PM has said many times in the past, a points-based system will not work and is not an option.”
Mrs May also indicated that EU citizens may continue to have preferential rights to live and work in the UK after Brexit.She said people “wanted to see an ability to be able to control the movement of people from the European Union. And obviously that’s what I say, not free movement as it has been in the past”.
During a series of interviews, Mrs May also declined to guarantee the UK would use money saved by leaving the EU to spend another £100m a week on the NHS or cut VAT on energy bills.