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

My hon. Friend and neighbour is absolutely right. We want reciprocal rights and reciprocal respect for one another’s political and legal systems.

We recognise that, in the future, as Hywel Williams noted, UK citizens will still want to work and study in EU countries, just as EU citizens will want to do here, helping to shape and drive growth, innovation and enterprise. None the less, the people of the United Kingdom did choose to leave the EU, and, as he pointed out, Wales voted by a majority to leave. As a result of that decision, the EU treaties will no longer apply to the United Kingdom and the Government have been clear that freedom of movement will come to an end.

I listened with interest to the part of today’s debate that dealt with suggestions for our continued membership of the single market. We accept that there is a balance of rights and responsibilities in the treaties and that, in choosing to leave the EU, we will put those rights in a new and different balance. We understand and respect the indivisible nature of the four freedoms, which is why leaving the EU and ending free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice does mean leaving the single market.

The Government propose a unique and ambitious partnership, which will be based on our rules and regulations being the same from the start and on maintaining our commitment to free trade and high standards, while allowing us to both make changes when we want to in a stable and orderly way, as my hon. Friend just said, with respect for one another’s systems. The exact shape of this future relationship has yet to be negotiated, but as the Prime Minister noted last week, we recognise the need to maintain the social, economic and cultural links between our people and ensure that businesses can attract and employ the people they need. That is why we are taking an evidence-based approach to our future immigration policy—something that Nick Thomas-Symonds managed to both call for and rail against at the same time. We commissioned an independent advisory body, the MAC, to gather evidence on patterns of EU migration and its role in the wider economy. That will include consideration of the impacts on the different parts of the UK, within the context of designing a UK-wide immigration system.