Theresa May seeks business support for Brexit plan

Theresa May is set to renew her efforts to sell her draft Brexit withdrawal agreement – saying it will stop EU migrants “jumping the queue”.

She will say migration will become skills-based, with Europeans no longer prioritised over “engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi”.

The prime minister will also insist to business leaders that her withdrawal deal has been “agreed in full”.

It comes as some Tory MPs continue to press for late changes to the deal.

Ministers from the remaining 27 EU countries are meeting in Brussels ahead of the deal being finalised on Sunday.

They are working on the political declaration setting out their future relationship with the UK.

There has been widespread criticism of the draft 585-page withdrawal agreement – setting out what the UK and EU’s future relationship could look like – which is set to be signed off at a summit this weekend.

Two of the prime minister’s cabinet ministers resigned over the proposed deal, while others are believed to be trying to change its wording.

Speculation continues over whether the number of Tory MPs submitting letters of no-confidence in Mrs May will reach the 48 required to trigger a confidence vote on her leadership.

What’s the PM’s next move?

Mrs May will join Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in addressing the business lobby group the CBI at its annual conference in London.

She will tell them that her plan will provide a fair immigration system that will help young people in the UK get jobs and training.

She is expected to say: “It will no longer be the case that EU nationals, regardless of the skills or experience they have to offer, can jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi.

“Instead of a system based on where a person is from, we will have one that is built around the talents and skills a person has to offer.”
She will also reiterate that she is not willing to reopen discussions with Brussels over the withdrawal agreement, saying “the core elements of that deal are already in place”.

She is due to say that she expects to hammer out a framework for a future trade relationship in Brussels this week, before signing off the deal at a summit on Sunday.

CBI president John Allan is expected to call for MPs to back Mrs May’s deal – despite it not being “perfect” – and warn of the consequences for businesses and the economy if the UK were to simply crash out of the EU.

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