So, the government is contemplating a ‘hard’ Brexit, taking us outside the single market, introducing a tariff barrier and regulatory obstacles to our main export market. The economic cost of this would be enormous. But it is being contemplated in order to curb immigration.
The problem is, most migrants in Britain come from outside the EU. And internal EU freedom of movement is reciprocal, with many Brits in other EU countries.
Migration to Britain from outside the EU is entirely a matter for national rules, not our EU-level agreements. The failure of the UK government to reach anything like its self-proclaimed target of reducing immigration to the tens of thousands — under Mrs May’s watch at the Home Office — comes from an inability to define and apply national rules relating to non-EU migration.
Perhaps it is a difficult task, but they knew that when they set their target. Deflecting blame for their failure onto the EU was a dishonest but all-too-easy way out. But it led to the vote for Brexit and may now lead to them choosing the most costly form of Brexit. It’s a high price to pay to absolve Theresa May of responsibility for failure.