Mark Chandler — Express.co.uk Sept 9, 2017
BRUSSELS Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt accused Theresa May of “poisoning the diplomatic well” with her immigration reform plans.
Papers were leaked showing the Government was considering scrapping the EU’s freedom of labour policies once Britain leaves the bloc.
The proposal would see British workers put first and cut the number of low-skilled migrants entering from the EU by offering a maximum two-year residency.
Mr Verhofstadt tweeted: “UK’s leaked immigration plans have poisoned the diplomatic well.
“EU & UK citizens deserve stability & certainty.”
His outburst came after EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier branded the curbs “toxic”.
The leaked 82-page Whitehall report proposed immediate limits on low-skilled European immigration once Britain leaves the EU in 2019.
High-skilled workers would face a three to five-year cap on work permits, plus a raft of security measures including fingerprinting and criminal record checks.
Although it is a draft document and not official policy Mrs May appeared to confirm there would be curbs at Prime Minister’s Questions this week.
She told MPs: “Overall immigration has been good for the UK, but people want to see it controlled.”
And she said immigration had an impact on “access to services and on infrastructure, but crucially also because it often hits those at the lower end of the income scale hardest”.
Mr Verhofstadt’s comments come following a tense few days between Brussels and the EU over the slow pace of Brexit negotiations.
Mr Barnier warned the talks were dragging on for too long with too little progress, saying: “Time is passing quickly for us to reach a global agreement.
“At the current speed, we are far from being able to recommend to the European Council that there has been sufficient progress in order to start discussions on the future relationship, while we are finalising the withdrawal agreement throughout 2018.”