European Union Citizenship

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:06 pm on 7th March 2018.

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Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman Conservative, Boston and Skegness 3:06 pm, 7th March 2018

I do not want to say that we can have our cake and eat it, but we can have a three-course meal and a bag of crisps. It is always tempting for one side of the argument to say it will all be brilliant and for the other side of the argument to say it will all be terrible. The reality is that, neither at this time of day nor at any other, I do not much fancy a three-course meal and a bag of crisps at the same moment, but there is a compromise somewhere in the middle, which is what we will be seeking.

Whether we represent constituencies such as mine or constituencies with far lower levels of migration, we have all heard the huge concern among EU citizens living in this country about what their status might be. We should accept it is the genuine and proven intention of the Prime Minister to seek to provide reassurance as soon as possible in the debate, but we should also bear in mind—I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for not doing this at he opened the debate—that the more we talk about those concerns, the more we fall into the trap of whipping up those concerns and the more we worry people who should not be worried. It is not only unfair on them, but it is irresponsible of us if we do that.

A number of constituents have come to tell me they are concerned both that they might not be able to travel as easily to the home country of their boyfriend or girlfriend, or that they may not be able to stay in this country. I have been pleased to be able to provide them with some reassurance, but I have not had tens of thousands of people coming to me to make that point because I have not stirred up such feelings. I am pleased the hon. Gentleman did not do so in his speech, although not so pleased that I will be supporting the motion today.

This has been a uniquely thoughtful debate, notwithstanding my own contribution, and it is a pleasure to be part of a debate on Brexit that is not as high octane and unhelpful as some we have seen, and that has not produced more heat than light. Perhaps this sets a precedent for how we might continue the negotiations.