Free Movement of EU Nationals

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 2nd October 2019.

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Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Deputy Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) 11:00 am, 2nd October 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered proposed changes to free movement of EU nationals.

I am delighted to raise the issue of freedom of movement in the EU, and I thank you, Sir David, for your chairmanship. “End freedom of movement” is a Brexiteer slogan that we have all become so accustomed to that it is easy to forget what it is really saying, and what it would really mean to this country, people living here and British citizens living abroad. We all know the basic numbers: freedom of movement allows 1.3 million British citizens to live, work, study, fall in love, marry, or retire across the European Union while more than 50,000 non-UK EU citizens work in our national health service, including support staff, nurses and doctors, all of whom play a vital role in our nation’s health.

More than 80,000 EU citizens work in social care, and even more in the UK construction industry. As the Government love to tell us, unemployment is at its lowest rate for 40 years, but where are the British workers who are queuing up and clamouring to take those jobs? If we end freedom of movement, who will care for our sick and elderly? Who will build the 300,000 homes a year that Britain needs? The Government’s own figures show that non-UK EU citizens bring far more to our economy and public services than they use. If free movement ends, services will suffer because we will not have the people to continue to provide them at the same level.

Those are the numbers, but what about the human cost and the sheer inhumanity of ending freedom of movement? Edinburgh West has constituents from France, Spain, Poland and many other EU countries who have made their lives in the city. Their children were born there, but now they are being told that they are not welcome. They feel they have no option but to leave.