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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:05 pm on 28th January 2019.

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Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales) 9:05 pm, 28th January 2019

My hon. Friend Stuart C. McDonald spoke in great detail and with great skill about the many deficiencies of this Bill. I want to focus on just one: ending freedom of movement.

Since 2016, we have listened to those who wish to rip Scotland from the European Union speak triumphantly about the prospect of ending freedom of movement. They speak of this as if it is a victory that will benefit the people of this country. In truth, we cannot measure what will be lost. We will lose countless opportunities, relationships, stories, and human experiences that would have been worth just as much to us culturally and socially as the billions of pounds that our EU membership generates every year.

I know that this will be hard to believe, but, by the end of this week, I will be one birthday away from my 40s. [Interruption.] It is the truth, yes. A clear majority of Members in this place are clearly older than I am. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend Angus Brendan MacNeil is clearly one of those. I am angry about the impact that ending freedom of movement will have on my generation and on those of older generations, but that anger is as nothing compared with the rage felt about the impact that this will have on younger generations—those who overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU, or who were left voiceless due to this Government’s opposition to giving the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds.

I equate the situation to the support that the Tory and Labour parties gave to the various versions of tuition fees at university. They were happy to accept all the benefits of free tuition and the unburdened opportunities that it afforded themselves, but are now happy to pull up the ladder of opportunity behind them. So it is with EU membership and freedom of movement—it is selfish, self-defeating and utterly, utterly senseless.