Brexit Update: A Summary of Theresa May’s Speech

Yesterday, the UK Prime Minister changed the landscape of Europe, clarifying her commitment to limit the free movement of European citizens to the UK.

Theresa May said she wanted continued cooperation with the EU to tackle terrorism and international crime, whilst hoping to preserve the rights of British workers abroad and those of EU citizens currently in Britain. She stated that she wants Britain to become a global hub for science and innovation. Mrs May vowed to take a harder stance on mass immigration, admitting it had taken a toll on schools, hospitals and basic services within the UK. She still wants Britain to accept skilled migrants but acknowledged that in her previous role as Home Secretary she could not control immigration with an open border policy. She was very clear that leaving the EU will allow Britain to seize back control of its own laws, meaning the justice system will be created in the UK, by UK judges. Mrs May insisted that Britain will “want to remain a good friend and neighbour” to Europe and wishes to remain “profoundly internationalist”, attracting the “best and brightest” talent to “a truly Global Britain”.

The Prime Minister confirmed that the UK will be out of the single market, but will hope to secure a free trade deal, given that that UK has shared the common rules under the single market for such a long time.  Mrs May confirmed that the government is optimistic that the EU can agree to a mutually advantageous trade deal however, she stands defiant in her belief that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. The Prime Minister has confidently expressed the expectation that the UK, as a long standing trading nation, will be able to secure advantageous trade agreements with the rest of world.

The Prime Minister has made it very clear that, as the right and fair thing to do, the Government is looking to secure the rights of EEA nationals in the UK as soon as possible. Theresa May has indicated that not all EU leaders are willing to agree on such a deal at this stage.  Mrs May’s speech, therefore, brings little comfort to businesses and individuals alike who now face an agonising wait, while the Government negotiates this issue with its European counterparts, to see if they would be able to secure their current and future workforce or status in the UK.

Theresa May has declared that the UK and the Republic of Ireland must maintain the Common Travel Area, commenting on the special relationship between the UK and Ireland and stating that the border cannot go back to the way it was. However, Mrs May did highlight that the UK will now share a land border with the EU and therefore a practical solution to immigration control must be devised.

We would continue to advise EU nationals to submit their applications to the Home Office permitting them to remain in the UK after Brexit and provide them greater certainty about their immigration status, particularly to their family members. Those eligible for British citizenship should also apply as soon as possible to reserve their rights.

Newland Chase will be planning a series of webinars following the Prime Minister”s speech and the recent consultation by the Home Affairs Committee on what our UK immigration system should look like. The government has launched a review of the immigration policy in the UK and is reaching out to companies and other stakeholders to share their views. Anyone who would like further information on our webinar or immigration in general, please contact us at

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