Theresa May could end freedom of movement for EU citizens next month

LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May will end the right of free movement for European Union citizens wanting to come to the UK when she triggers Article 50 next month, according to a report in The Telegraph.

The prime minister will use the start of formal negotiations to leave the EU as a “cut-off date” for new migrants from the other 27 European states seeking to live in Britain, The Telegraph said.

Those who arrive before that date will have their rights protected under the freedom of movement rules, which allow EU citizens to live and work across the trading bloc, as long as the same treatment is afforded to UK citizens living abroad.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that the government would “give certainty to the EU people who are here, people who contribute to the economy as soon as we get reciprocity so the UK people living in the EU are also secure because we’ve got to look after them as well,” in an interview with ITV.

“One thing I can confirm is we will be ending freedom of movement as we know it,” Rudd said.

Immigration into the UK fell to its lowest level in two years in the year ending in September 2016, according to the latest migration figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week.

Net migration in the UK was +273,000, with immigration into the country estimated at 596,000 people, and emigration at 323,000.

The immigration figures included 268,000 EU citizens, 257,000 non-EU citizens and 71,000 British citizens.

The ONS said that the net number of citizens from so-called EU8 nations — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary — coming to the UK, has fallen in the months since the Brexit vote. However, the number of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens has increased.

Here is the ONS’ chart showing the headline figures as part of the 10-year trend:

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