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Theresa May is renewing her efforts to sell her draft Brexit withdrawal agreement – saying it will stop EU migrants ‘jumping the queue’, reports BBC.
She said migration would become skills-based, with Europeans no longer prioritised over ‘engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi’. The PM also insisted to business leaders at the CBI that her withdrawal deal has been ‘agreed in full’. It comes as some Tory MPs continue to press for late changes to the deal.
Ministers from the remaining 27 EU countries have met in Brussels ahead of the deal being finalised on Sunday. They are working on the political declaration setting out their future relationship with the UK.
There has been widespread criticism of the draft 585-page withdrawal agreement – and a short paper setting out what the UK and EU’s future relationship could look like – which is set to be signed off at a summit this weekend.
Two of the prime minister’s cabinet ministers resigned over the proposed deal, while others are believed to be trying to change its wording.
Speculation continues over whether the number of Tory MPs submitting letters of no-confidence in Mrs May will reach the 48 required to trigger a confidence vote on her leadership of the Conservative Party.
Mrs May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are both addressing the business lobby group the CBI at its annual conference in London.
She told them that her plan would provide a fair immigration system that would help young people in the UK get jobs and training.
It will no longer be the case that EU nationals, regardless of the skills or experience they have to offer, can jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi.
“Instead of a system based on where a person is from, we will have one that is built around the talents and skills a person has to offer.”
She also said she was not willing to reopen discussions with Brussels over the withdrawal agreement, saying “the core elements of that deal are already in place”.
She said that she expected to hammer out a framework for a future trade relationship in Brussels during ‘an intense week of negotiations ahead’, before signing off the deal at a summit on Sunday.
“My job is to get the best deal,” she said. “Parliament must then examine it and do what’s in the national interest.”
She said the final stage of negotiations ‘was always going to be the toughest, but we have a deal’.
“Let no one be in any doubt I am determined to deliver it,” she said.
CBI president John Allan is calling for MPs to back Mrs May’s deal – despite it not being ‘perfect’ – and has warned of the consequences for businesses and the economy if the UK were to simply crash out of the EU.