UK gov­ern­ment di­vided over free EU la­bor move­ment

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment ap­peared di­vided Sun­day over Brexit, with In­ter­na­tional Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox clash­ing with fi­nance min­is­ter Philip Ham­mond over free move­ment of la­bor once the UK leaves the EU.

Fox said the cab­i­net had not agreed a deal on im­mi­gra­tion once Bri­tain is out of the EU in March 2019.

With Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May out of the coun­try on hol­i­day, Ham­mond said Fri­day that there was “broad ac­cep­tance” in cab­i­net of a post-Brexit tran­si­tional pe­riod, ex­tend­ing cur­rent free­dom of move­ment ar­range­ments for up to three years.

But Fox told The Sun­day Times news­pa­per: “If there have been dis­cus­sions on that I have not been party to them. I have not been in­volved in any dis­cus­sions on that, nor have I sig­ni­fied my agree­ment to any­thing like that.”

In the June 2016 ref­er­en­dum vote to leave the EU, “We made it clear that con­trol of our own bor­ders was one of the el­e­ments we wanted in the ref­er­en­dum, and un­reg­u­lated free move­ment would seem to me not to keep faith with that de­ci­sion,” said Fox.

David Jones, a for­mer ju­nior min­is­ter in the Brexit de­part- ment, branded Ham­mond’s tran­si­tion plans “deeply dan­ger­ous.”

He ac­cused the fi­nance min­is­ter of “go­ing on ma­neu­vers” while May, weak­ened by the June gen­eral elec­tion, was on hol­i­day in Italy.

“All this ag­i­ta­tion by the chan­cel­lor and his al­lies is hugely dis­cour­te­ous to her and un­der­mines her au­thor­ity,” Jones said in The Mail On Sun­day news­pa­per.

Mean­while Ger­ard Lyons, who was an eco­nomic ad­viser to For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son when he was Lon­don mayor, said a twoyear tran­si­tion pe­riod would work bet­ter.

He said Ham­mond’s alarmism re­minded him of the year 2000 when a feared “Mil­len­nium bug” was meant to make com­puter sys­tems crash.

“Many of the ‘risks’ be­ing high­lighted about Brexit are per­ceived risks, not real risks. And a two-year tran­si­tion would al­le­vi­ate many con­cerns,” he wrote in The Sun­day Tele­graph news­pa­per. AFP

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