There are some political truths that are so mutually inconvenient that everyone simply chooses to ignore them. One is that the free movement of people within the nations of the European single market is wildly popular among European voters and is here to stay.
It’s not just that it is an essential pillar to the free movement of goods, services and capital within the single market: it is that the free movement of people is the most popular thing about the EU as far as every other European nation is concerned.
Almost every European country has an anti-immigration party that is enjoying a measure of electoral success; but that is driven by opposition to immigration from outside Europe, not within it. There is no electoral caucus for ending free movement worth a damn in any other European country bar the United Kingdom.
That’s why any effort to stay in the European Union while “reforming” freedom of movement, such as the one proposed today by Gina Miller and Maurice Saatchi, will not work.
That fact is difficult for Brexiteers to accept, because doing so means accepting that the rest of the European Union refuses to limit free movement, not because it is particularly undemocratic or staffed by unrepresentative elites, but because it is the settled will of most Europeans that it continues. It is difficult for Remainers to accept, because doing so means accepting that opposition to free movement is a British peculiarity that is not going to be appeased, and can only be addressed with a hard exit from the European Union.
If you are not willing to at the least accept that free movement is the price you pay for a close relationship with the European Union, the best UK-EU relationship available is the one negotiated by Theresa May.