The Free Movement of People

The Brexit negotiations will come down to this!

Free movement of people within the European Union came about via the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. Which also came about from the earlier 1957 Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and concerned the free movement of workers and of establishment of right. A key part in making this all work and establishing an internal market with free movement of persons was the conclusion of the two Schengen agreements, i.e. the Agreement proper of 14 June 1985, and the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement, which was signed on 19 June 1990 and entered into force on 26 March 1995. The UK and Denmark both opt out of the agreement for Schengen so still have border controls.

The free movement of people within the EU is said to be one of the four founding principles of the EU that allows EU citizens to live, work and travel with the European Union, there are many politicians and people in general in the UK who are against the free movement of people. Many believe that EU citizens are benefit migrants, take people’s jobs, are a burden on social services and are a security risk to the United Kingdom. A huge part of the EU Referendum debate, more so in England, and definitely within the right wing media was the idea of ‘taking back control’.

Many, like Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats, argue that free movement is not a universal right as it does not allow for the free movement of non-EU citizens in any way. Vince has written that ‘ There is no great argument of liberal principle for free EU movement; the economics is debatable; and the politics is conclusively hostile’.

However, Free movement is seen as very popular among EU Politicians and seen as a way to bring about stronger feelings of European citizenship. The feeling of European citizenship has been growing since 2010 according to Robert Schuman of European Issues. 67% of Europeans feel that they are citizens of the European Union. This is the deal breaker, and I don’t see anyway around this for the United Kingdom, the simple fact is that the EU will not compromise on free movement, they also have the backing on this issue by many EU citizens.

This is where the United Kingdom Government is caught between a rock and an even bigger rock. Many voters in the UK will not accept the free movement of people into the UK, and the EU will not accept the blocking of EU citizens into the UK or any EU member state. This leaves the UK looking at World Trade Agreement rules, all of which are deemed awful by most economists etc. Some will argue that the UK could, and will join NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), but there will be no guarantee of that and who is to say Americans, Canadians etc will want the risk of the UK taking trade from them.

I voted leave and I am not here to re-hash the arguments, but it is an unholy mess that will punish the UK more than it will punish the EU. As I have said before, I totally regret how my leave vote has been used. This does beg the question though, does another General Election and disaster loom?

I cannot see how the Conservatives can negotiate the so called soft Brexit of access to the Common Market and Customs Union without free movement, the EU can’t be seen to back down and can probably absorb the shocks better that the UK. Will the EU ride to the rescue, as some commentators have suggested, with a new EU Treaty that the UK would have to vote on but could be a way of letting the UK off of the hook and the cliff edge, I’m not so sure. What a shambles, the UK has never been more divided and another General Election could actually make it worse. Any thoughts anyone?





  1. greig12

    Your right, it’s the classic irresistible force meeting the immovable object. The torys succeeded in diverting the blame from their policies onto immigrants so successfully that the country has been well and truly backed into a corner on this one.

    I would like to say it serves them right but we’re all in the shit with them. We have a gung ho bunch of Britnats pulling the strings in the wings and Joe Public having bought into it so completely courtesy of the right wing media that it will take some real strife to change minds.

    The only sensible course other than continued membership and I don’t know if that’s actually still an option, is to accept free movement and stay in the single market. Otherwise it’s hard Brexit time.

    It’s all just a pointless waste of time and energy.

    • Anonymous

      I know that they are talking about the customs union but I just don’t see how the EU will accept that without free movement. Why let the UK be in a customs union, even making a payment, and allow them to opt out of free movement. The is the old EEC, if that was the case I would think a few would want the same agreement. I think that unless something gives it will be the so called hard brexit all the way, that will hurt Scotland massively but will it increase the support for independence is the question.

      Thanks for commenting.


  2. 100%YES

    What ever our strong and stable Tory Government decided on Europe along the DUP, NO SURRENDER TO INDYREF2. We desperately need an edit box

      • 100%YES

        Any deal with the DUP we will all pay, these people only have one vision and its not the vision I would hope for Scotland within a Isolated UK. That why Indyref2 wants to remain Nicola Sturgeon main and only goal.

        • grumpyscottishman

          I totally agree, the SNP have got to be clear that indy is very much on the table and remains on the table as long as the SNP exist. What else are they for in any case, they have to be that and then once it arrives I imagine a re-doing of politics in Scotland. I would probably move over to the Green Party to be honest but will remain an SNP voter as long as we are stuck in this crappy UK.

          Thanks for commenting.


  3. TheStrach

    No free movement of people means a hard Brexit which both Tories and Labour support. I hope people who voted for these parties in Scotland understand what is going to happen. Scotland will get older and poorer very quickly as we need immigrants to grow our economy and do the jobs we can’t or won’t do. Only independence can save us.

    Good to see the Greens reiterating their support for independence. The SNP need to go on the attack and do the same. They did win the GE in Scotland after all and need to act like winners.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with you that it will be a hard so called brexit by the look of things, the Tories will arse it up like they have arsed up everything else. I think the SNP do need to go on the attack now, the middle way won’t work as I have argued for years, and the yoons have done nothing but attack since 2014, with the help of the yoons in the media. The SNP need to stop being nice and just go for it after having a serious review. But saying that there are people in the SNP who still don’t get it, I have seen some of the leadership comments about last week and if they don’t change they are going to lose Holyrood quickly. The Greens I have been impressed with, I thought their manifesto was the best one and certainly the one I related to the most. I have always given them my list vote and will stick to that as we need the SNP to deliver indy but in an indy Scotland I think I would be Green, it’s taken me years to get to that point but my politics are def Green. Don’t know why I didn’t see it sooner having been a brief member of the Scottish Lib Dems, now there is a party that could join the Tories and no one would see anything different. Thankfully it was only for a couple of months.

      Thanks for commenting.


  4. Terry Entoure

    Great article.

    I’m utterly astonished that a liberal like Vince Cable could advocate freedoms for capital and data that he doesn’t extend to human beings. He might be in the Liberal Party but he clearly doesn’t have liberal instincts. It appears that not many of them do.

    • grumpyscottishman


      Thanks, I won’t lie to you I have some misgivings about the EU but the nonsense that the Tories are trying to peddle is unreal. The EU will do whatever they want and it won’t be in the interests of the UK that is for sure and why should it. I just can’t see how the UK can get around free movement, it’s a hard so called Brexit all the way. The Liberal Party are anything but, Tim Farron has resigned today implying that he has been forced out because he is a Christian, tells you all you need to know about the Liberal Democrats.

      Thanks for commenting.


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