European Union Citizenship

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:18 pm on 7th March 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Affairs and Europe) 3:18 pm, 7th March 2018

As usual, the Minister leads me nicely on to my next point: this is about more than history and identity. I hope that at some point he will be able to tell us how we will replicate these ideas of citizenship and the benefits we have as citizens—our right to study, to work and to travel, our right to healthcare and our human rights that derive from our European citizenship. One Member made the good point about people who work here being able to work elsewhere at short notice. That goes to the heart of European citizenship, and it is why I am so grateful to the Minister, as usual, for intervening on that point.

The value to our economy of European citizenship is crucial. I think of the academics at the University of St Andrews, who can go to work and collaborate with their partners elsewhere in Europe, but it works in both directions: I think of farmers such as the one next door to me, James Orr, who relies on seasonal workers to pick his broccoli, which must still be picked by hand. The Minister for Immigration talked about certainty. I have heard other Ministers say that EU nationals should now feel a sense of certainty in their citizenship, but my postbag tells a different story, as, I suspect, do the postbags of other Members. That is why I raised the point about military families, but we must also keep in mind other EU nationals, who contribute so much, just as UK citizens in other EU countries do.