The Last Mile - pm session

Prepared by Elke

After a long time in the queue to clear security, we finally made it to Committee Room 10 of the Houses of Parliament. We were stripped of all EU paraphernalia, even our sticker “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells against Brexit” did not make it into Parliament! The organisers had arranged for a number of MPs to come and speak to us:

Ed Davey, Liberal Democrats -

Believes EU citizens should have the same rights as before, but the Government was not prepared to grant this unilaterally. They should also have full rights to participate in civic life. Ring-fencing these rights would have been sensible. He referred to Caroline Nokes’ evidence to the Select Committee as the “biggest car crash” with much trust having been lost. He hopes that Parliament will stand firm and not accept the binary choice of May’s deal or No deal. He is in favour of a People’s Vote.

Stuart McDonald, Scottish National Party -

SNP will put pressure on government to protect EU citizens. He thinks the least bad option would be to continue with the customs union and single market, and he supports a People’s Vote.

Dominic Grieve, Conservative Party -

Supports the protection of EU27 citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU27. He said that the referendum was “one of the stupidest decisions in modern history”, and that the current negotiations bore little relationship to what was voted for. He is committed to a People’s Vote, and says a parliamentary choice between deal or no deal was patently wrong.

Paul Blomfield, Labour Party -

He had told Theresa May to guarantee the rights of EU27 citizens and the EU would reciprocate and grant UK citizens in the EU27 countries right to free movement in EU. He also mentioned that the victims of modern slavery (i.e. sex workers who had been trafficked to the UK) would be subject to the settled status registration charge. Apparently he asked Dominic Raab whether he would guarantee the same rights EU27 citizens now have, but Raab refused to answer.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party -

Freedom of movement should be celebrated. May is pursuing an extreme Brexit she has no mandate for. Exclusion of EU27 citizens from voting in referendum had been shameful. Then there were short statements from The3Million, Brits in Europe and Unison – the organisers of this event.

The final statement was by the French Senator: Olivier Cadic. There were no advantages in leaving the EU and EU citizens should be able to vote in a People’s Vote and the meeting concluded with the motto of the European Union: “United in diversity”. It signifies how Europeans have come together, in the form of the EU, to work for peace and prosperity, while at the same time being enriched by the continent’s many different cultures, traditions and languages.

After the meeting, Yvette Cooper tabled an urgent question in the House of Commons on EU citizens asking Caroline Nokes to clarify the testimony she had given to the Home Affairs Select Committee, which Yvette Cooper chairs. This is worth watching on Parliamenttv 5 November around 15.30 hours or alternatively, you can read John Grace’s article in the Guardian.

Ruth St John