The Prime Minister of Malta has advised the UK to remain in the EU. Speaking to the Malta Independent in December 2015, Dr Joseph Muscat said:
“Malta’s position is clear. Malta wants the UK to stay. We are ready to move closer to the UK for an agreement to be reached.”
In a statement at Chatham House research centre in March 2016, Dr Muscat advised that the UK is unlikely to negotiate a future trade deal without allowing free movement of people:
“Any settlement and possible deal will not offer the kind of 1970s single market model while ditching what some consider as irritating add-ons. In other words, one can safely assume that freedom of movement of persons, on the same level as it is today, would remain a main requirement for any free access to the single market,” he said.
Muscat highlighted difficulties that the UK may face in the event of a Brexit: “With its economic and migration woes, negotiating an exit arrangement for the United Kingdom would be perceived as a time consuming distraction which would drain the drive from tackling more pressing issues”.
No other country has ever managed to negotiate full access to the EU’s single market, with which we do roughly 50% of our trade, without also accepting the EU’s freedom of movement for EU workers and visitors. We benefit from this same freedom when traveling to other parts of the EU with no need for a visa.
This is not the same as the EU’s borderless Schengen area. The UK has negotiated an opt-out from Schengen meaning it still has full border controls with passport checks at the border.