Why don’t people understand what EU Citizenship Rights are?

Ex-CBI chief lambasts EU leaders and UK over citizens’ rights

Paul Drechsler says politicians should be ashamed that citizens’ rights in UK and Europe have not been guaranteed.

Paul Drechsler makes a good point, but it is clear that he does not understand what EU citizenship rights actually are.

EU citizenship rights are not just the limited right to reside, work and study that the EU and UK negotiators have distilled them down to for their convenience. Even then the rights that the EU & UK propose to “grant” are surrounded with caveats and are often less than non-EU citizens who are resident in the EU are entitled to.

So much for the EU’s promises to preserve the rights of people who have made life-changing decisions based on their EU citizenship rights. Note “preserve”: that should mean that they won’t change.

EU citizenship confers a broad and complex set of rights that we currently hold as EU citizens. You do not have to be living, working or studying in another EU country to be exercising those rights, either:

  • You might simply have a business, perhaps one that you operate personally from your home in the UK using Ebay or Amazon, which trades across the EU.
  • You may have purchased a property in a EU27 country so as to be able to retire there and exchange the high cost of living in the UK for a lower cost of living in a EU27 country with a climate that is kinder to people in their later years.
  • Perhaps you own a business in a EU27 country even though you still reside in the UK.
  • Or you may simply go on holiday in an EU27 country where you hire a car using your UK(EU) driving licence and rely on the protection of your European Health Insurance Card while you are there.

None of these rights are protected in the draft Withdrawal Agreement!

The scale of this attack on our citizenship rights is becoming clearer, and even if a withdrawal deal and a transition period are agreed, it may well only defer the day when these rights are finally lost, when Theresa May’s self-imposed red-lines result in the UK sitting outside the EU without a deal – let alone one that is even close to being as beneficial as the UK’s current membership of the EU.

We have another government minister, this time Michael Gove, seeking (deliberately?) to undermine the UK’s integrity and trustworthiness by insisting that a deal could always be undone at a later date. If the deal is undone by the Prime Minister, as Michael Gove suggests, then what happens to the few, if any, rights preserved under an exit deal?

On Monday we had Theresa May spelling out that it’s “her way or no-way”  ‘Chequers or no deal’ warning angers Tory right a position which angers people all across the political spectrum just as her “Chequers” deal does. And this is a person who serves a democratic country ruled by a sovereign parliament.

All of this, and the evidence of the social and economic damage that is already being caused in the UK, and the clear indicators of how much worse it will be after we have left the EU, is driving the increasing demand for a vote by the people on the deal that Theresa May finally agrees (or fails to agree).

At their party conference the Lib-Dems have taken a strong position that remaining in the EU has to be one of the options once we know what deal has (or has not) been struck by Theresa May. But even they do not recognise that our EU citizenship rights are not covered by the so-called protections in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

All eyes now turn to activists and politicians in the other parties to see whether they have the courage to press for a sensible decision on what is Best for the UK.

This is not to override what weak politicians call the “will of the people”: this is to ask the people whether their will is still the same, now that we are so much better informed about the consequences of leaving the EU.

That question is not something a democracy, its parliament, government or opposition of the day should be frightened of, unless political self-interest is more important than what is Best for the UK.

Unless the interests of the people are not one of the priorities that politicians are concerned about?

It is simply asking what the will of the people is at the end of 2018 and whether it is the same as it was in mid-2016.

As David Davis said in 2012: “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”


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Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.


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