BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - The British government is working on its proposals for curbing immigration following the country’s exit from the European Union and will consult with businesses on its plans, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Monday.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said the June 23 Brexit vote was a message from voters that immigration cannot continue at past levels, but she faces the challenge of balancing this with retaining as much access as possible to the EU’s single market.
“We are still doing the work on it,” Rudd said in an interview with the Times on the sidelines of the Conservative Party annual conference in Birmingham, central England.
“The prime minister has said that we will be changing freedom of movement within the European Union for labour, we will. My department is leading on this and we are looking at the best way to implement that.”
Rudd, who campaigned to remain in the EU, said it was important any curbs did not disadvantage the economy.
“We do not want to have a post-Brexit plan that diminishes our economy so although we will want to control immigration, we will want to reduce it, there are areas we can do that without damaging our economy. We are going to consult with business.”
Rudd also said a government pledge, made by former prime minister David Cameron and repeated by May, to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands would “take some time to fulfill”. It is currently running at more than three times that.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Editing by Elizabeth Piper