Anger at home secretary's joy at ending free movement

A conference speech in which the UK Home Secretary spoke joyfully of ending free movement of people after Brexit saw a backlash from a British MEP and campaigners for Britons abroad in the EU.

2 October 2019
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel speaks about ending free movement at the Conservative conference
By Connexion journalist

Speaking at the conference in Manchester yesterday, Priti Patel said she has “a particular responsibility when it comes to taking back control: it is to end the free movement of people, once and for all”.

Instead, Ms Patel, whose Indian parents moved to the UK from Uganda in the 1960s, said they would introduce an “Australian-style points based immigration system”.

Such a system allocates a number of points to would-be immigrants based on factors like age, education, means and skills, with the highest points going to young highly-educated workers with sought-after skills. A certain minimum score is required to come.

Ms Patel said the new British system would be: “One that works in the best interests of Britain, one that attracts the  brightest and the best.

“One that supports the brilliant scientists, the finest academics and leading people in their field.”


However lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion said ending free movement went both ways.


“If Priti Patel gets her way, we lose the right to live, work, study and retire across 27 countries,” he said.


The British in Europe coalition wondered if those clapping the speech had thought through the consequences.



Franco-British journalist Alex Taylor also tweeted about the speech calling it “galling” for those like himself who have benefited from free movement to live and work in France:



Meanwhile other Twitter users drew attention to Ms Patel’s own origins.

Her parents hailed from an Indian family that ran a shop in Uganda and who were not wealthy or university-educated when they arrived in the UK. Initially her father worked in a Kodak factory and her mother did sewing jobs.



The Conservative conference is continuing today and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a speech today explaining his “last offer” to the EU with regards to solving the problem of the Irish border without the controversial ‘backstop’ arrangements.

He has insisted the UK will still leave – with or without a deal – on October 31, despite MPs having passed an act which would require him to ask for an extension from the EU if there is no deal by October 19.

A new court case will be heard on Friday in Scotland, seeking an injunction to force him to ask for one if necessary.

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