Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:11 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 7:11 pm, 28th January 2019

It is an honour to follow Mrs Badenoch, who gave an impassioned and well-delivered speech, almost all of which I disagreed with.

This Bill has taken its time to arrive. And now that it is before us, it is a disaster waiting to happen. Right the way through, it is based on an assumption made by the Prime Minister in her Lancaster House speech that what 17 million people meant when they voted leave was that we needed to end freedom of movement, not just for EU citizens in the UK, but for UK citizens throughout the European Union. I am 100% certain that 100% of the 52% did not mean that, but the Government’s assumption that they did is essentially why the red lines set by the Prime Minister have left the Government in a position where they are incapable of delivering any form of Brexit that does not wreck the British economy. If the Prime Minister wanted more time to reconsider her position, reconsidering those red lines would be the wisest thing she could do. If she then reached across to the other side the Chamber, she might well find reasonable people on the Opposition Benches who are prepared to listen to her.

The Bill abandons freedom of movement. With a slash of a pen, the rights of people in this country will be drastically reduced. British people, young and old, will lose the right to travel freely, to study overseas, to make friendships in other countries and to build careers. I am afraid that the Minister and the Home Secretary are both young enough to live long enough to have history judge them very harshly for this Bill, and they should be warned in advance. There are people who have made their homes here, and 3 million of our neighbours and colleagues are being told, not very subtly, that they are not wanted here. Britain is surely much better than this.