We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Report (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 8th May 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords 5:45 pm, 8th May 2018

My Lords, the House has heard the pleas of the heart if not of the head. I think I have said before that, although I was born in Germany, I sadly do not qualify for a German passport or else I would be doing the same as many others. So many people are doing it because they fear and regret losing their EU citizenship. As the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, quite rightly said, in the treaties EU citizenship is an add-on. Only people who are citizens of a member state have EU citizenship, with all the rights, protections and consular protections that brings. They have to be a citizen of a member state. Sadly, that change will come and we will not be EU citizens.

I would like to leave a thought with the Minister. We have not treated the whole of this aspect sufficiently seriously. We have not reached out to EU nationals living here and to people who are losing their rights as EU citizens. We have still not told EU citizens living here—unless I missed it—whether they will be able to continue to vote in our local government elections. We know they will not be allowed to vote in the European Parliament elections—that is fairly obvious—but there are other changes that the Government have been very lax and slow in spelling out.

The plea behind some of the feelings that we are having is to listen to the current EU citizens. If there is one plea that I would leave with our negotiators, it is that we need a withdrawal deal that puts citizens at its heart, not as an add-on, and that we should do everything that can be done to keep the links that we already have with agencies, education and so on. That would help to make a withdrawal deal that would enable British citizens, even if they will not have that lovely treasured purple passport, still feel as if they are continentals—full associates, if you like—with the rest of the EU.