Want to stay an EU citizen? Now is the time to start lobbying for it

It has come sooner than we might have thought. But the first crunch parliamentary vote on Brexit is about to take place. Not in Westminster, but 200 miles to the east, in Brussels. And the British press is waking up to it.

Splashed across the front page [£] of Saturday’s edition of The Times is the news that Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian MEP who leads the Liberal group in the European Parliament, backs the idea of offering EU citizenship directly to Brits who want it post-Brexit. The Guardian and others have reported on it too (if you don’t have access through the paywall).

I first blogged about this idea last month, and wrote about it here in Lib Dem Voice earlier this month after learning that another Liberal MEP, Luxembourg’s Charles Goerens, had started to push for it.

Brexit might not yet happen, but on 8 December MEPs on the Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee will cast the first votes on whether Brits might be able to opt back in to the EU as individuals in the event that it does.

Now is the time to lobby your MEPs. It won’t be good if the idea falls at the first hurdle. I’ve set out all you need to know in a post on the blog I set up to campaign for this very thing. It tells you all about the proposal, why it’s a good idea for pro-EU Brits, why it would make sense for the rest of the EU to offer it, and why there’s no good reason for those who want the UK to leave the EU to oppose it.

This idea would not force anything on anyone. It would be “opt in”. If you wanted to stay an EU citizen, you could. If you wanted to leave, you could. In contrast, Brexit forces us all to leave whether or not we want to do so. Brexit is a one-size-fits-all straitjacket. This opt-in citizenship idea gives individuals the freedom to choose what’s best for them. It is a very liberal solution.

Now is the time for us to lobby our MEPs. Our awesome Catherine Bearder is on board. Let’s convince the others too (although maybe not bother with the kippers).

* Stuart Bonar was the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in Plymouth Moor View.

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38 Comments

  • This is an excellent idea. This will be a real test of how communautaire the continentals actually are. I’ll sign up myself if the fees are small enough.

  • Maxine Saving 27th Nov '16 - 10:42am

    I’m in. Great idea.

  • Brynley John King 27th Nov '16 - 11:09am

    Yes, I am very interested in retaining EU citizenship. Please keep me further advised on any developments. Thanks in advance.
    Bryn King

  • It appears to be no different from someone having dual nationality, so I can’t see there being any problem from the UK. However, the EU won’t yet confirm that UK citizens currently living in EU countries can remain after brexit, so this would seem to be jumping the gun. I can’t see Mrs Merkle entertaining this before the official brexit negotiations start.

  • PETER COLLARD 27th Nov '16 - 11:35am

    It is indeed a brilliant idea, and I can’t see any reason why anyone could be against it – even leavers. It’s called democracy. I will be more than willing to pay my anual fee.

  • A suggestion, why don’t we champion a soft Brexit now, with the commitment to review it in 5 years or so, and if it isn’t working the way we wanted to then to implement a hard Brexit? Seems a much safer way to go about such huge change in this country.

  • Richard Underhill 27th Nov '16 - 12:05pm

    We had a zeugma from Andrew Marr on 27/11/16. He should know better. http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-zeugma.html
    Everything that Nick Clegg wrote about Michael Gove is justified, but there is more. The Tory MP and backbencher is full of clichés, but “a politician complaining about the media is like a sailor complaining about the sea”. Does he have the permission of the Tory whips, or the PM, to give away one of the negotiating cards she has treasured so much?
    If not, perhaps a vote in the Commons would be interesting. Huge numbers of people who are legally in the UK from other EU member states await a decision from the UK government. Is he willing a rebel?

  • adam parnell 27th Nov '16 - 12:09pm

    “BREXIT is a one size fits all straitjacket”. Funny how you didn’t advocate a similar approach for those who haven’t wanted to be in the EU for the last 40 years.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Nov '16 - 12:16pm

    We need to be careful that Britain doesn’t pay high contribution fees plus our citizens who want to be EU members pay citizenship fees on top of that. It would truly be a bad deal for Britain.

    There’s a decent chance of me moving to the continent, but I’ve had my mind set since before the referendum on a working visa as a backup if we pull out of the EU.

    Again, respectfully, I think we need to argue for a good/fair deal for Britain and I don’t see that as nationalist or naive.

  • This wouldn’t be full compensation for brexit, but it would be very welcome indeed

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Nov '16 - 1:03pm

    A couple of people have said they will pay the annual fee before knowing what it is. If everyone said that it would likely put up the fee.

    It could also reduce visa rights if the EU starts just telling us to buy an EU passport instead, so we need to be careful. This is not a freebie and we need to negotiate on it.

  • John Peters 27th Nov '16 - 1:11pm

    @Eddie Sammon

    Nobody who matters will take this idea seriously.

    I plan to keep my card next to my Justice League of America one.

  • Martin Roche 27th Nov '16 - 1:28pm

    Has someone set up a petition site (someone with better digital skills than me)? I’m all for the idea, though it’s surely comes with complexity. Nonetheless, while supporting and lobbying for EU citizenship we should also use the numbers in a petition to remind HMG, parliament and media that many millions in the U.K. are unhappy, and gird the loins of EU parliamentarians.

  • jedibeeftrix 27th Nov '16 - 1:39pm

    @ Carl – “Malc, you claim that “the EU won’t yet confirm that UK citizens currently living in EU countries can remain after brexit”. But everyone knows other EU countries are perfectly happy for UK citizens to stay”

    In that case it should be incredibly easy to complete this preliminary agreement well in advance of the Article 50 in March.
    I look forward to this happening imminently…

  • John Jowett 27th Nov '16 - 1:48pm

    Excellent idea, especially for the huge number of UK citizens who live in other parts of the EU than the UK. Many of these people were not allowed to vote in the referendum (or general elections in any country) although they were among the most directly concerned by the result. However one of the few things we do get to vote for are the MEPs in the country where we live. So it is important that these non-UK MEPs be lobbied too.

  • Jacqueline Renshaw 27th Nov '16 - 5:33pm

    I’ve already registered, did it weeks ago.

  • Leekliberal 27th Nov '16 - 6:58pm

    @John Peters ‘I’ll sign up myself if the fees are small enough.’
    If you are the John Peters who is, by your own admission, a Tory voter and has been consistently rubbishing the European ideal on Lib Dem Voice, this strikes me as being the ultimate in hypocrisy. If, as I hope , this idea becomes a reality I trust that those wishing to adopt European citizenship should be required to affirm their belief in the European ideal, in which case cynics will need to be blatantly dishonest to get the benefits of European citizenship.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Nov '16 - 7:33pm

    Leekliberal, the problem with your idea is people might be afraid to criticise the EU in case they get kicked out of the continent. People who sign up for EU citizenship should be able to speak freely without fear of deportation.

  • Noorderling 27th Nov '16 - 8:27pm

    This proposal would create two classes of European citizens: those with the right to live and work in the EU and the UK (British citizens), and those with only the right to live and work in the EU. I thus can’t see this proposal being very popular outside the UK.

  • If the cost was the same as a UK passport (£72.50) and 10 million UK citizens went for it, then that is £725 million to EU coffers towards, say, the refugee crisis. What’s not to like?

  • John Peters 27th Nov '16 - 9:37pm

    It’s interesting that so many seem to think that this proposal has a chance of being enacted.

  • Peter Watson 27th Nov '16 - 11:24pm

    @Noorderling “I thus can’t see this proposal being very popular outside the UK.”
    I agree with your conclusion.
    I can see why (at the right price) it could appeal even to pro-Brexiters, offering some of the benefits of EU membership that are enjoyed by more affluent Brits (freedom to travel, live, work, trade, buy property, etc. in Europe) without the downside (to Brexiters) of actually being in the EU and having to reciprocate these freedoms. But if it were genuinely an attractive option for the EU, surely it would want to offer the same opportunity to citizens of Turkey, Russia, the Middle East, America, Africa, India, China, etc. And that does not seem likely. Indeed, is that even something that Lib Dems who like this idea would want to implement for other countries if they succeed in preventing Brexit?

  • I am supporting this idea 100% and have already signed the petition L Morgan has referenced
    https://www.change.org/p/eu-offer-european-citizenship-to-uk-citizens?recruiter=643011476&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

    There are 161,000 signatures, but more needed. Current target is 200,000 signatures

    if anyone has any other ideas on how we can push hard for this

  • This should be in every Focus leaflet with a response slip. There’s a fantastic data base of Remainers to be built here.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Nov '16 - 1:07pm

    West Germany reserved a place for East Germany, not as a separate state, but by unification. Cyprus is a member state of the EU, but is divided between north and south. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/july/20/newsid_3866000/3866521.stm
    Talks have been delicate and lengthy but a peaceful resolution is possible.

  • Miller Sally 28th Nov '16 - 2:56pm

    Both my husband,Gerard ,and I wish to have European citizenship.

    Having lived ,worked and retired in France for 27 years , this is our home.

    How can we help the campaign?

    Sally and Gerard Miller.

  • Noorderling 29th Nov '16 - 8:09am

    In reality this proposal means one sided Freedom of movement, and is a good example of having your cake and eating it.

  • There’s this also this petition to take the debate to uk parliament and have the idea of associate eu citizenship discussed and considered:

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/172021

    Please could you sign and share!

  • This is a way forward for us right minded people who wanted to stay in the Euopean Union. I am in please keep me informed if progress is made. After Christmas I intend to go into my family tree to see if I have an ancestor that entitles me for a Euopean Passport

  • Adam Schemanoff 1st Dec '16 - 9:55am

    Follwoing reading this I have indeed emailed all my regions MEP’s, even the “kippers” and asked them to consider this and help to project some fo the rights I was born with as an EU citizen.

  • Steve Comer 3rd Dec '16 - 10:53am

    As someone who has residency right in another EU country thanks to my EU Citizenship, I want this to succeed!
    I am trying to encourage people to e-mail their MEP’s to support Charles Goeren’s ‘Ammendment 882’ initiative. By all means sign the online petition too, but if every MEP gets 10 or more e-mails or letters on this it may well have an impact.

    Some have scoffed at the chances of success, but remember the ALDE Group does have a pivotal role. I reckon this could well be supported by many of not all the MEPs in the EPP, the Socialist Group and the Greens (and maybe some in the Leftist block too).

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