The UK government have outlined the priorities and principles that will guide the UK negotiating position once Article 50 is “triggered”. These are:
- Provide certainty about the process of leaving the EU
- Control of our own laws
- Strengthen the Union between the four nations of the United Kingdom
- Maintain the Common Travel Area with Ireland
- Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe
- Rights for EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU
- Protect workers’ rights
- Free trade with European markets through a free trade agreement
- New trade agreements with other countries
- The best place for science and innovation
- Co-operation in the fight against crime and terrorism
- A smooth, orderly Brexit
These are underpinned by four principles: certainty and clarity; a stronger Britain; a fairer Britain; and, a global Britain.
This is “hard Brexit”, it leaves the single market, does not accept any deal that will require the UK to fall under the European Court of Justice or accept free movement.
The PM highlights rights for EU nationals living in the UK as a priority but she has clearly made this contingent on the rights of UK nationals abroad. There are c.125, 500 students from the EU in the UK, and this approach turns them into bargaining chips. Non-UK students already face uncertainty and prejudice and they deserve better than to be used as a negotiating tactic.
The concerning rhetoric about immigration continues. It is clear that Brexit is being used as an opportunity to cut immigration figures by creating a more restrictive system. International students, who are counted within net migration statistics, will be targeted by the same hostile policies. The Government cannot pretend it welcomes international students to the UK whilst its policies are deterring them from coming to study here.
NUSUK takes the view that whilst Theresa May might call her vision one of a ‘global Britain’, it is meaningless if nothing is done to put values of tolerance, collaboration and community into practice. NUSUK will be launching a campaign for a liberated education system, where all students in society can access transformative, inclusive education. The focus will be to protect the status of students coming to the UK, prioritising student mobility to ensure transformational experiences and preserving the quality of education in the UK.