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From Iain Donaldson, a Manchester Liberal Democrat Learn more

Politics: Citizenship is an individual right, not a plaything for a political elite

by Iain Donaldson on 10 November, 2016

I am both a citizen of Britain and a Citizen of Europe.  All my adult life I have had a passport that declares me to be both a British Citizen and a Citizen of Europe.  I have never found myself conflicted by that notion.

Now though I face the prospect of losing my European citizenship due to the actions of a combination of small minded xenophobes, right wing ideologists, people who fear the future and some people stupid enough to believe what they read on the side of a bus.

Thank goodness that my fellow Liberals in other parts of Europe are somewhat more open minded that the bigots who will want to tell me right now to stop moaning.  A Liberal MEP from Luxembourg has proposed that when the small minded Little Britons attempt to deny me the European Citizenship that I have cherished all my adult life, that I will be able to claim associate membership of the European Union.

As an associate citizen I would be allowed to keep the free movement across the EU that I currently enjoy as a full citizen and I would be allowed to vote in European Parliament elections, meaning I am still represented in Brussels.

This proposal would not only enable me to retain my European Citizenship, but could also potentially give patriotic Britons who live and work across borders a workaround to the disruption caused by the Leave vote – and young people looking to flee an increasingly insular UK greater choice over where to move to.

Amendment 882 was proposed by Charles Goerens, a liberal MEP from Luxembourg. It will be considered by the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee, which is drawing up a report with recommendations on “Possible evolutions of and adjustments to the current institutional set-up of the European Union”.

The Little Britons have reacted with anger to the idea, arguing that it would discriminate against Leave voters and that it was “an outrage”, but frankly I find their outrage completely irrelevant.  They are not the ones being denied citizenship that they have enjoyed all their lives.

16 million Britons who voted, voted remain.  Millions more people be they ex-pats or 16 to 18 year olds or Europeans of other nationality living in Britain were denied any say.  The referendum was only decisive because of the number of people affected who were denied a vote.

Though the British Government has been evasive on what it wants Britain’s post-Brexit future to look like, it is likely that British citizens will lose the automatic right to live and work in the EU after Brexit.  This is because Prime Minister Theresa May has made clear that she would like to restrict freedom of movement from EU countries to the UK, a policy that would likely be reciprocated by the EU for British citizens.

Little Briton, Jayne Adye, director of the Get Britain Out campaign described the proposal as divisive and said it was “totally unacceptable” for British people to retain the advantages of EU membership.  I have news for you Jayne Adye, it is totally unacceptable for you to claim that an advisory vote grants the British Parliament the right to deny over 16 million people the right to the European citizenship that they have enjoyed all their lives.

Ms Adye goes on to say that “This is an outrage. The EU is now attempting to divide the great British public at the exact moment we need unity. 17.4 million people voted to Leave the EU on 23 June and as a result the UK as a whole will get Brexit,”.  Well, I have news for you Ms Adye, the great British public were divided the moment you split off the 17 million who retain the British Citizenship they always had from the 16 million who lose the European Citizenship they have held for the majority if not all of their adult lives.

Your statement that “Brexit means laws which impact the people of the UK will be created by accountable politicians in Westminster ” Is laughable when:

  • Only a quarter of British Citizens voted Conservative at the last General Election;
  • The unelected House of Lords can amend or scupper legislation proposed by the Commons; and
  • The parliament voting on Brexit has no mandate to do so.

What is unacceptable is that over half the citizens of the UK are subjected to a Brexit created by unelected people like you who are not accountable the British people as a whole. Discriminating against people based on their political views shows there are no depths that you will not sink to.

Britain did not vote to leave the EU, it voted to advise the Government that leaving the EU was an option it wanted parliament to consider.  The reality is that the Referendum could only ever in British Law be advisory because unlike many EU countries Britain does not have binding referendums.  Our constitutional settlement makes Parliament soverign, and the will of the people is expressed not in a single question referendum but in debates and amendments through Parliament.

Your know it’s very rich of people like you to be calling for British Laws to be made in Britain when at the first time that those British Laws are tested in court you immediately lambaste those testing them.

You, Ms Adye, are a part of a small political elite that belives it has the right to bully over 16 million people into losing the citizenship we have enjoyed for over 40 years.  Well, your elite are wrong to attempt to do so because citizenship is an individual right, not a plaything for a political elite.

One Response

  1. David Crowther says:

    Excellent article Iain
    It’s worrying when I find myself totally agreeing with you .