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Irish to maintain UK rights after Brexit but no preferential treatment for EU citizens

Irish citizens will continue to enjoy the same rights they currently do in the UK after Brexit, despite a Government decision not to give EU workers preferential treatment.

It comes after a decision by UK Cabinet on Monday to support a system which will be based on skills rather than nationality once the UK withdraws from the European Union.

Ministers agreed in principle to give their support to recommendations made by the independent Migration Advisory Committee on migration from the European Economic Area after Brexit - a position also supported by the Labour party.

The Cabinet meeting heard from the committee's head Prof Alan Manning.

Its report states it is working off the assumption the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland will continue after Brexit, so "any future restrictions on EEA migration will not apply to the Irish".

"Sometimes we refer to the group of UK and Irish as simply the UK-born to make the report more readable," the reports states.

Monday's Cabinet meeting was told that in the post-Brexit immigration system, EEA and non-EEA nationals "should be part of one universal system".

It is on the basis high-skilled migration is of more economic benefit to the United Kingdom than lower skilled migration.

Ministers also agreed that once free movement is brought to an end, the new system tailored to suit the needs of the UK would boost productivity.

Despite this belief, there are fears restricting the movement of lower-skilled labour could potentially damage the UK economy.

The BBC reports a Cabinet source as saying the agreement was not a firm decision, and there would be room for "light touch migration" for EU nationals as part of a trade deal with the EU.

The broadcaster's political editor Laura Kuenssberg notes that ending freedom of movement has become a "rhetorical non-negotiable for Theresa May".

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