European Union Citizenship

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:33 pm on 7th March 2018.

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Photo of Ben Lake Ben Lake Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion 3:33 pm, 7th March 2018

I thank the hon. Gentleman, and I agree that the uncertainty is certainly not helpful to anybody. When I speak to a lot of young people, those are precisely the concerns that they raise with me. They do not know what the future holds. At one time, they did know—they were able to plan ahead to do the things that their elder siblings or family members had been able to enjoy. Now they find themselves in the daunting situation of not being able to do so.

My point is that Brexit need not rid UK nationals—young or old—of those rights, and international law is quite clear on that. How UK nationals retain their European citizenship after Brexit is therefore a matter of political will. It is for the Government to propose a model to achieve that, and to negotiate so that it is included in the withdrawal agreement.

Associate citizenship not only presents a possible solution but offers much-needed compromise for an embattled Government and a way to heal the deep divisions that have emerged across the UK. Let me reiterate a point that I made earlier to Michelle Donelan: this will be a model in which someone could opt in or refuse to opt in—the choice will be theirs. It will be a way to heal divisions. The former Education Secretary, Justine Greening, said that

“if Brexit does not work for young people in our country, in the end it will not be sustainable”.—[Official Report, 17 January 2018;
Vol. 634, c. 918.]