On Tuesday, Theresa May told the Conservative party conference:
“What I’m proposing is a deal: the fewer people there are who wrongly claim asylum in Britain, the more generous we can be in helping the most vulnerable people in the world’s most dangerous places. And my message to the immigration campaigners and human rights lawyers is this: you can play your part in making this happen – or you can try to frustrate it.”
Some think tanks were just as unimpressed. The Adam Smith Institute pointed out that her argument that migration was unsustainable rested on “a constant blurring of the difference between the volume of immigration and the size of net migration flows”. At Politeia, meanwhile, Sheila Lawlor argued that the Conservatives had rallied an electorate concerned by immigration against an anti-democratic EU and overbearingly unilateralist Berlin.
Progress commented twice that the speech was obviously a bid for future leadership of the party. In another article, they admitted that in tone if not in policy “the Tory leadership is currently darting in and out of traditional Labour territory with the impunity of a Russian fighter jet invading Nato airspace”.
But is a call to end free movement a call for Brexit? Open Europe insists that both May and Boris Johnson have not quite positioned themselves in the Brexit camp of any future referendum campaign, as Civitas suggests. Ultimately, how this will affect an EU treaty renegotiation remains unclear. The European Council for Foreign Relations has an interesting piece on France and Germany’s activity behind the scenes: they have “been working – and consulting each other – over the compromises that will help delineate the landing zone of the current talks.”