European Union Citizenship

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:15 pm on 7th March 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Hywel Williams Hywel Williams Shadow PC Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Brexit), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow PC Spokesperson (International Trade) 2:15 pm, 7th March 2018

My hon. Friend makes a telling point to which I will return in a moment and which is covered by the two aspects of citizenship that we are proposing. The first concerns continuing citizenship for those of us who are citizens of the EU now by means of a bilateral treaty. The second concerns those who, being unborn, cannot access that citizenship—this is a matter for our children and our children’s children. Particularly acute, however, for me at least, is the position of those aged 14, 15 and 16 who understood the issues in the referendum but were unable to vote. I should say in passing that my party has always been in favour of reducing the voting age to 16, which would have made a considerable difference to the result.

As I said, today the UK Government have an opportunity to heal some of these divisions. This is a positive point from the Plaid Cymru Benches, and I hope that the Government see it in that light. We are calling on them to secure and retain our right to European citizenship and not to take away what is already rightfully ours, so that we might leave the EU with just a little less self-inflicted injury.

We are European citizens, although I have to confess that I am biased: I am married to a European citizen—she is from Llanelli. She likewise is married to a European citizen—I am from Pwllheli. I do not want to labour the point, but we are both Welsh and European. I am therefore biased, and, as my hon. Friend Liz Saville Roberts said, so are our many friends and colleagues who have chosen to live and work in Wales and become Welsh, but not by rejecting their European citizenship or identity. To quote Gwynfor Evans again:

“Anyone can be Welsh, so long as you are prepared to take the consequences.”

That is our definition of citizenship. The citizens of Wales are those who are committed. I would commend that as a general definition of civic identity—I suppose I should say “civic nationalism”, but perhaps I should let that pass.