Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Robin Teverson: Remain voters who want to stay EU citizens have been abandoned by the Government

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Robin Teverson was the first Lib Dem peer to talk about citizenship and specifically the rights and freedoms granted to us by our EU citizenship that we are about to lose.

My Lords, I have tabled an amendment on Euratom. Contrary to what the Leader of the House said yesterday in her opening speech, there is no mandate to leave Euratom. It is not part of the EU and it seems that, as a country, we are in danger of cutting off our nose to spite our face for no reason in terms of an electoral mandate.

Today, I want to speak primarily about my great-grandfather, Samuel Miller. He was a master sergeant in the Middlesex Regiment in the late 19th century. I think that he served in South Africa but in the late 1870s he was posted to Dublin. There, he fulfilled his military duties and one year later, in 1880, my grandmother, Edith Blanche—later Leddra—was born. Because of that accident, I was able to take on Irish citizenship and indeed did so in 1996. I am a dual national. Therefore, after Brexit takes place, I will be able to have all the privileges of a European citizen, but that will not be the case for the 16 million people who voted to remain part of the European Union. Not just those with relatives who were born in other EU nations but those born in Ireland will also be able to decide whether to continue to have those privileges as European citizens in the UK beyond Brexit.

Perhaps I may remind your Lordships of some of those privileges. They include non-discrimination alongside other European nationals, the ability to move and reside without hindrance in European Union countries, the ability to work within the European Union, to establish a business, to export and to trade without red tape, the ability to have diplomatic representation, the ability to use our qualifications throughout Europe, and of course the right to healthcare and a European health insurance card when travelling in the EU.

I looked through the White Paper with a great deal of interest. As other noble Lords have said, it is not very long. Strangely, although there were a number of comments about reinforcing UK citizens’ rights in the rest of Europe, it said absolutely nothing about the 16 million of us who will be denied those privileges and rights through the vote of the 17 million. On that, there is a complete void. It is because of that that I feel that those 16 million who along with me voted to remain—I am not going back in history; this is just how it was—have been abandoned by this Government. It is not mentioned in the White Paper. There is no plan for us to retain those rights.

I have spoken with the European Parliament. It is my intention with other parliamentarians who have a similar concern not to negotiate with our own Government—I have no questions for the Minister today, because the Government cannot give what I am asking, nor do they have the power to do so—but to take a delegation of other parliamentarians to meet the rapporteur of the European Parliament and to ask it to protect those rights of our citizens either through membership or associate membership, and to try to achieve that where our own Government have clearly failed and have no interest.


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  • Very true. And abandoned by Labour who have essentially adopted the Government’s hard-Brexit position wholesale. BTW if you want a laugh on the subject I really recommend this funny piece on the EU demanding ‘four pints of Nigel Farage’s blood’ as part of any Brexit deal

  • Every time I think of all the opportunities that my children have lost, I want to cry.

    The children of affluent families will still get their international experiences of other cultures and we only have to look at the research done by the British Council to see how their careers benefit from it.

    Now, the children of the non-elite will have those opportunities taken away from them through the loss of EU programmes. According to the British Council research, only 30% of state schools offer the these experiences compared to nearly 80% of private schools.

    The Global Innovation Report identifies our state educational funding as a weakness, while the the British Council clearly identifies our education system as the envy of the world, but it is our private education system they are talking about and Oxbridge.

    The gap between the lives and concerns of the elite and the ordinary person in this country are about to take an exponential leap. While the elite concern themselves with where to build the UK’s first spaceport by 2020 and how to automate the workforce to increase productivity; the rest of us will be too busy trying to survive to thrive. What breaks my heart is that it is the ‘ordinary man’ who has given them the mandate to do it and why? To drag even more of us into their pit of despair. They are only punishing more ordinary people. The elite will continue as they always have – only with even less competition.

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