One of the main problems with juggling the Free Movement Deal post Brexit is that Theresa May keeps moving the goal posts. Whether it was about a “Hard Brexit” .v. “Soft Brexit” or the problem of broken promises, the whole experience with Brexit so far has been one of inconsistency.
It’s been a long, slow and difficult slog so far, dragging ourselves to Article 50, having that bill “ping pong” with the Lords, and finally triggering it. New hurdles have come up along the way, but none larger – in the eyes of the media and public – than the thorny subject of immigration. However, that is only because the Tories made outlandish claims in their election manifesto, and the Brexit campaign really turned up the heat on anti-immigration propaganda.
Free Movement Deal? What will “the people” think?
Or do we mean, 52% of the people? Or rather, the percentage of people in the Brexit camp who held the promises in such high regard as to think they were even serious. Given the fact that Theresa May has already had to admit that Brexit will not itself curtail the immigration numbers, you could easily believe that “the people” might be annoyed by that. The 52% didn’t vote for a Free Movement Deal after Article 50 was triggered.
Maybe that is the problem. The nature of our politics in the UK means that everything has to go through the filter of party political in-fighting as each side vies for the other’s blood in puerile and divisive arguments. Not debates – arguments. If you have ever had the misfortune of finding yourself watching a Commons session on TV – especially Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQT) – it is easy to note that they don’t actually debate. A question is asked; a direct answer is rarely given; they move on to the next question that bears no relevance to the first one.
Little gets addressed; less gets answered; even less gets done. And that is what we do with our sovereign power. It’s only when other pressure – such as the House of Lords start fighting back – that there feels like real action is going to take place. That is until the Commons, under the Tory-tyranny, resoundingly ignores them, usually at the expense of those most in need.
Across the whole Brexit journey (which you can read on our Brexit Timeline), the Tories have repeatedly changed their tune on EU workers and free movement. First the promised a shut down of the borders. Then they promised security for EU workers already in the UK. Next, Theresa May reneged on that part of the deal and plunged many EU workers into panic about their future. The House of Lords then insisted that the Article 50 Bill gave such assurances, but Theresa May refused to do so unless the EU promised to give current UK Expats assurances first.
But by the end of March, Theresa May was forced to admit that Brexit would not automatically bring about a reduction in EU immigration.
So, no more control over the borders after all.
The latest position is that Theresa May has suggested that a Free Movement Deal would be extended after Brexit as part of an “implementation” period. In truth, I am glad that I am neither an EU worker or an expat because this constant wheeling, dealing, shifting and changing is confusing. Not to mention abhorrently disrespectful. I am British, and I am a voter, but my government does not speak for me when it treats millions of our hard-working residents in this way.
Constantly changing the rules loses trust, betrays allegiances, and ultimately costs loyalties in the future.
If you keep moving the goal posts, no-one is ever going to be able to score, and all we will end up with is a ground full of holes and a lot of people tripping over as they try to get out.