Despite Brexit, and the often tone-deaf nature of the current government’s diplomacy, it is heartening that senior European politicians remain committed to British people having a close relationship with Europe in the future. That is why Guy Verhofstadt’s comments, supporting the rights of British citizens to retain some of the advantages of our European Union membership, are welcome. The government should respond positively, demonstrate its commitment to negotiating in good faith and with goodwill and see how important it is that both parliamentarians and the public should be fully involved in the Brexit process.
Being a citizen of the EU brings tangible benefits. It allows Britons to move easily to mainland Europe and between European countries, be it for work, study or pleasure. More than a million of our fellow citizens have done so, from those who have retired in Spain to tech entrepreneurs in Berlin. Services such as the European health insurance card guarantee free medical treatment for Britons who fall ill in another European country. The open skies policy and the near-abolition of roaming charges have made the European continent a smaller place. And of course the EU’s economic foundations – the single market, customs union, funding for universities and poorer regions – have made us all better off, creating millions of jobs in Britain through free trade with the world’s largest market.
Super, what Verhofstadt said is that there should, could, be some mechanism by which those individuals who wanted this citizenship of the EU lite should be able to claim it. And why not?
The objection to the EU is not that people get to choose from a thoroughly liberal palette of choices about how they wish to live their lives. Rather, that the EU comes as a single bundle of no choices in it at all mate.
It’s also sod all to do with the UK government. We’ve never insisted that people must claim UK and UK citizenship only. We do insist that if it is claimed then it is lived up to but no more than that.
So, let those who wish to join with the federasts do so. Let those who do not not. There is nothing at all wrong with people having more choice in this world.