European Union Citizenship

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 7th March 2018.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:44 pm, 7th March 2018

I congratulate Plaid Cymru on its first Opposition day debate, Liz Saville Roberts on tabling the motion and Hywel Williams on opening the debate with his usual eloquence, passion and power. I congratulate everyone who has contributed to a genuinely considered discussion on maintaining European Union citizenship for British nationals.

It is entirely proper that we debate issues relating to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, and the rights that we hold today as European citizens are an important aspect of that. I have heard many arguments from across the Chamber today as to why we should seek to secure some form of continuation of EU citizenship for British nationals after we withdraw from the European Union. I welcome the varied contributions made to this important debate, including the report by Jill Evans MEP and Swansea University, to which several colleagues referred.

I have listened closely to the arguments that the rights and protections held by individuals with EU citizenship are, in some cases, integral to their identity. We had a fascinating discussion about identity, and my hon. Friend Matt Warman spoke well about some of the complexities of that and how his constituency has been shaped by Europe in a different way from some others. I should say that the Prime Minister has made it clear, and I reiterate, that we are leaving the European Union; we are not leaving Europe. On this question of identity, at the end of this process we will still all be citizens of a European state.