Tag Archives: freedom of movement

Roger Roberts: Don’t build walls, build bridges

While all the drama was happening in the Commons yesterday, the Lords was debating the Queen’s Speech.

One of the measures in that is an immigration bill that makes any liberal reach for a sick bag. Roger Roberts very eloquently described why freedom of movement is a good thing – what would Londoners have done for their tea without the Welsh farmers who moved their to set up dairies?

My Lords, listening to the Queen’s Speech, what drew my attention was the reform of the immigration regulations and that these would include restriction of freedom of movement. I agree that we need reform of the Home Office Immigration Rules, because they are totally unfit for purpose. For instance, this year we saw Windrush remembered, and only last week heard that a lass born in Glasgow 30 years ago now faces deportation. The whole thing is agony for so many people. They are here and yet the Home Office seems to treat them very unjustly. I therefore suggest that we make a fair adjustment of the regulations so that nobody will feel that they are being used in an unfair way.

We face immigration problems that will increase as the years progress. We see that climate change in Africa could well turn many people from their homeland to look for somewhere else to survive. Warfare in places such as Syria and Afghanistan will also lead many people to leave their homeland to look for somewhere they can have a fair and peaceful existence. We, as the United Kingdom, could be the leaders in this reform of immigration thinking. So often we are the people who react, not the people who lead. We could be the people who lead on these immigration transformations. That means we would need to take the initiative; we would have to forget building walls and start building bridges. That is the only way we can become a whole human family.

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Brexit Impact for UK Citizens living in the EU outside the UK

“This is the fourth of a five-part series of pieces highlighting the issues of concern to Liberal Democrat members beyond our shores. For the first in the series, click here…”

The 2016 Referendum result has plunged the lives of the 1.2 million British citizens resident outside the UK in the EU into a maelstrom of loss and uncertainty. It is important to remember that about 600 000 of them are disenfranchised by the 15-year rule for overseas voting and thus many of the individuals most heavily and directly impacted by Brexit are those with no democratic voice in the process of the removal of their EU Citizen’s Rights.

As Prime Minister Johnson continues to wield the threat of a No-Deal Brexit to extract concessions from the EU and plays fast and loose with the rights of our EU citizen friends and relatives resident in the UK, he is entirely dependent on the goodwill of the other 27 EU Member States towards our Citizens, resident within their borders. For while it is in this British Government’s power to grant rights to EU citizens resident in the UK, British citizens must rely on the generosity of the EU Member States to maintain at least some of the rights that they depend on to conduct their lives.

There are a myriad of reasons why British citizens took the opportunities afforded to them by their EU Citizens rights and moved to live in other EU countries and the scenarios in which they now find themselves are no less diverse. There are those who depend on their Freedom of Movement in order to work across multiple countries, particularly those who are involved in the service sector, who will find themselves heavily impacted by the increased barriers to trade after Brexit.  Then, there are retirees, with pensions that have already seen their value fall by about 25% due to the Pound’s downward course since 2016 and now face the loss of their S1 reciprocal healthcare provision and the removal of pension uprating in 3 years time. So, while the British Embassy Outreach events seek to assure us that nothing much will change in our daily lives, it is actually hard to gloss over the fundamental erosion of rights and opportunities that is occurring.

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An open letter to Jacob Rees Mogg – remember the words of Jo Cox’s maiden speech before you criticise the EU

Today you described on Channel 4, freedom of movement as being and I quote “a poison” of the EU.

Let me tell you my own story. A language graduate who studied French at the University of Southampton and has lived twice in France – made easier by free movement. Someone who has spent more time working in Paris or Madrid than Scotland.

I married someone with an Italian passport who wouldn’t be in the UK were it not for free movement. Someone, who despite being a qualified teacher from her home country – came to study and took jobs which she …

Posted in Op-eds | 12 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg – a deal can be done on freedom of movement

Writing in the Financial Times, Nick Clegg shows how, as on many other issues, British politicians are wrongly blaming the EU for the consequences of decisions taken in Britain affecting immigration from EU member states.

Crucially, there is far more latitude for member states to apply restrictions to freedom of movement than is commonly appreciated. The Belgian authorities aggressively deport EU citizens who do not work and cannot support themselves. Under EU law, the UK authorities could do the same for EU citizens who have failed to find work after six months. Access to Spanish healthcare requires registering with

Posted in LibLink | 29 Comments

Party members question Vince Cable on Brexit, freedom of movement and single market

It now appears that Vince Cable will be unopposed in the upcoming party leadership election, and so party members will not receive the opportunity to quiz him at hustings on his record and policy views>

Many of us within the party are concerned by this. We believe that in a democratic party, it is imperative that the leader receive proper scrutiny. We need to know that the candidate is up to the job. The leader of the party must be able to deal with uncomfortable questions.  As we’ve seen in the recent election campaign, the inability to give a straight answer to a simple question can be fatal to a leader.

The party leader must also be able to speak for the party and to defend party policy, especially when it comes to the most important issues of the day. In particular, many people have expressed concern about Vince’s statements to the New Statesman calling for an end to single market membership and freedom of movement, which appear to go against both party policy and the party’s constitution.

>For that reason, a number of us have put together an open letter to Vince Cable, the full text of which can be found here. This letter has been signed so far by hundreds of party members, including a substantial number of parliamentary candidates, councillors, and local party exec members. These are the people on whose support a new leader will need to rely, and so those people in turn need to know that the new leader is worthy of such support.

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Labour won over young voters but it is betraying them on Brexit

It is pretty likely that Vince Cable will be our next leader. There has been some concern about his position on freedom of movement and membership of the single market. The is hardly surprising given that he wrote a New Statesman article headlined “Why it’s time to end EU free movement” back in January.

There are signs that his line on Brexit has softened since last year,  and his record is a million miles better than Labour’s. We’ll take no lessons from them  given that 80% of their MPs voted against membership of the single market last night in Parliament and Vince, like all the other Liberal Democrats voted for it.

Last week, Vince wrote a piece for the Guardian on Brexit and how Labour is betraying the young people who voted for them in the General Election.

The party could be mobilising effective opposition to a hugely harmful hard Brexit, yet contradictions abound. Spokespeople attack this hard Brexitm but then sign up to leaving the customs union and single market, which is in essence what hard Brexit means. Others, including Sadiq Khan, argue that the party should campaign to stay in the single market.

Labour was brilliantly successful in the election at mobilising young people, who were angry that their European future had been stolen from them but who perhaps didn’t scrutinise the small print in the manifesto. Before long they will. They may not know that Jeremy Corbyn ordered his troops into the division lobbies to support the extreme Conservative-Ukip Brexit, but may now notice his insistence that Brexit is “settled”. Make no mistake, on Brexit Corbyn is betraying many who followed him.

He looks at the reasons why Labour has abandoned the pro EU stance of Blair and Brown before looking at the issue of immigration. He is scathing about Labour’s stance:

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Brexit: An opportunity to extend freedom of movement

Let’s turn Brexit on its head. Let’s not only lobby to remain members of the European Union’s single market, but have free movement of goods, capital, services and people included in our future free trade agreements with some non-EU countries. After all, as liberals we’re not only Europeans, but internationalists. Let’s turn crisis into opportunity by breaking down borders between this country and others around the world.

Wouldn’t it be great if Britons could live, work, study and start a business in Japan, South Korea or Australia with the same ease as we can in Spain and Germany today? It would strengthen trade and political ties between us and those nations, enrich our cultural experience and ensure Britain is internationalist not isolationist in this brave new Brexit world.

Although many Britons would oppose free movement of people from large countries with low per capita incomes, such as India, or having any kind of free trade deal with autocracies like Saudi Arabia, it would be difficult to argue against these arrangements with small and medium-sized democracies with per capita GDP’s similar to our own: Migration from countries like Taiwan, Norway and Canada is likely to be moderate and  counterbalanced by Britons heading the other way, so wage levels, public finances and housing supply are not likely to be strained.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 15 Comments

Opinion: EU court gives lie to Cameron’s free movement scaremongering

It’s probably fair to say that the European Court of Justice is unused to tabloid adulation. But this week’s ruling in Luxembourg on the case of a jobless Romanian woman in Germany led even the arch-anti-EU Daily Express to hail ‘a rare outbreak of common sense’.

The judgement by the EU’s highest court that the right to free movement does not equate to a right to free access to benefits was warmly welcomed all round, including in Germany – which has higher rates of migration than the UK. Even David Cameron called it ‘good news’.

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