I’m fighting to ensure that the youth of today can be a part of the Europe of tomorrow
Lord Dafydd Wigley
The youth of today want to be a part of the Europe of tomorrow. Yet, it is the government of this generation which is denying them that right. A right to their European identity and Citizenship.
It was this principle which motivated my Plaid Cymru colleagues in the House of Commons to choose European Citizenship as the topic of a debate last week. A debate which they won. Meaning for the first time ever the House of Commons supported a Plaid Cymru motion.
Some may say this victory is hollow, as it does not force the Westminster Government to act. However, it indicates the will of the House is that European Citizenship is retained – if the Government try to say otherwise, they will find parliamentary arithmetic is unlikely to be in their favour.
It also bolsters the case that I will be putting forward when my amendment to the Withdrawal Bill calling for our European Citizenship to be protected in law is debated in the coming days.
Put simply, European Citizenship gives you the right to live, work and travel in over 30 European countries – the EU 27 plus EEA/EFTA nations.
It gives us the opportunity to break down borders – to experience our shared European history, make friends across the continent and do business beyond national boundaries.
My passport states that if I am in distress overseas, where there’s no convenient UK embassy, I can be helped by the embassies of other EU member states. Without my European Citizenship, I shall lose that right.
If I fall sick in another EU member state, I can currently rely on my European Health Card to access free healthcare services. My automatic right to such assistance will disappear without my European Citizenship.
The list of rights and benefits goes on.
Of course, some staunch Brexiteers, may want to trade away these rights and benefits for a shiny, new blue passport. And to them I say, go ahead, but I’ll keep my rights, thank you very much.
The disastrous economic consequences of Brexit become more apparent every day. But, Brexit impacts us on a much deeper level. It affects our identity as Europeans and our rights as individuals.
For my entire life, I have fought for the right to call myself European and the benefits that has afforded. I am not willing to let my European identity and Citizenship be taken away from me, or from the next generation.
And it is this next generation that will suffer most if we are stripped of our citizenship, and don’t they know it. Polling has shown that a staggering 85% of young people want to retain their European Citizenship.
I intend to do my bit in ensuring that they can.
Long into the night, for weeks on end, I have sat in the House of Lords debating the Westminster Government’s flagship Brexit legislation.
Grey haired Lords and Baronesses agonise over a relationship with Europe that means so much more for a generation that does not have a single representative on the red benches of that place.
In the coming days, we will debate my amendment that could guarantee that the wishes of this unrepresented generation are heard. That they can retain their European Citizenship.
My argument will be as simple as this – do you want to be the generation that strips the next of rights and opportunities that were afforded to you?
If not, you must join me in saying I am European and I want to keep my European Citizenship.
Lord Dafydd Wigley is Plaid Cymru’s representative in the House of Lords and a former Leader of the party.
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Glad to see you haven’t given up hope.
I’ve said it before (here and elsewhere) but I’ll say it again. It’s hugely regrettable that Plaid didn’t play a more active role in the referendum rather than sitting back and letting the UK wide parties fight it out.
I’m not saying that Plaid would have swung the vote at a UK level, but they could of at a Welsh level and if Wales had voted remain, our hand and the hand of Carwyn et al would be much stronger as is Scotland’s. But what’s done is done.
Well yes we can agree but …it begs the question, what about fighting for Welsh identity? Plaid sometimes seem to be ‘fighting’ causes and issues far from Wales or what matters to the ordinary Welsh voter. Just saying.
Welsh identity and European identity are linked. I fear that if we lose European identity, the British (/English) identity that many want to force upon us would be harder to resist.
Right now, fighting for our European identity must be the priority. I don’t have the energy to fight on two fronts at the same time.
Lord Wigley rightly condemns the imposition of lifelong restrictions on a younger generation who embrace their European identity and EU freedoms, despising the xenophobic negativism and shrunken horizons of Little Britain. Our new passports should be sepia, not blue, to represent the UK’s weepy nostalgia for an empire long gone and never to be recaptured. The huge expense and damage of Brexit will poison our children’s future; compromising their freedom to make a better life elsewhere in Europe is simply unforgivable.
I used to have a lot of respect for Dafydd Wigley, having met him on a number of occasions, even spent an afternoon drinking with him and Elfyn Llwyd in Westminster pub some 17 years ago. How times have changed. He’s now become a “good Welshman”, who, along with Plaid Cymru, is betraying the Welsh nation who voted to leave the EU. Although the emotionally manipulative language of equating being European with “rights”, while really meaning being under the thumbs of an anti-national and undemocratic bureaucracy in Brussels may work an for a minority, in 2016, the majority of us… Read more »
I agree, Simon.
It seems you have very badly misunderstood what Dafydd is saying. He is not saying we should not leave the EU (nor is he saying we should – though his views are not in doubt). He is saying that the youth, who will have rights taken from them if they lose their EU citizenship, should be able to retain that citizenship. And so should all of us who wish to retain EU citizenship. But you don’t have to, if you don’t want to. And clearly you don’t want to. That would be your choice. What’s wrong with that? And please,… Read more »
Dwi’n cytuno Angharad.
This whole debate shows what a Faustian pact EU membership is for Wales, and a real dilemma. The choice: remain in an increasingly undemocratic power bloc and enjoy the right to work in said power bloc, or get out of it and become even poorer and at the mercy of the Palace of Westminster. Like the Irish border, it’s now an unsolvable problem. If young Welsh people have expressed such a strong desire for continued European citizenship, and if they seriously wish to work in the EU, Lord Wigley is right to fight for it. Since the UK, and (let’s… Read more »
The regions of England that have experienced the greatest demographic change were the ones that voted remain. There is a qualitative difference between the young, active, entrepreneurial people who move to England, and the people who come to Wales for a slower pace of life, to chase some romantic ideal that doesn’t actually exist, to get away from the people who have moved to England, or simply to die.
Agree. In two minds about EU. Can see a bit of the plus bit. I participated last year on the euronews questiontime. There were four young europhiles, you know the type, and they were asking Mr Junker various questions. They were bright eyed and positive, but every response was a gentle rejection, so I switched off. When I say participated, it’s stretching things, as it was “you’re turn now” to submit a question and “we will contact you”. I asked if a he could see a peoples europe in the future………..still waiting six months later. Lot’s of people v. unhappy… Read more »
Equal rights under the law of all citizens is a sin qua non of a just society.
Unlike the rest, post Brexit British citizens in Northern Ireland and those elsewhere of Irish descent will have the right to remain European Citizens. ( by choosing Irish nationality )
Therefore citizens of the United Kingdom will as things appear to stand no longer have equal rights under the law.
Well done to Plaid to winning support for proposing retaining our European citizenship.
Article 9 of the Lisbon Treaty seems be unequivocal that EU citizenship can only be obtained by means of holding citizenship of a EU Member State and therefore UK citizens and Gibraltarians will lose EU citizenship automatically after Brexit (or a transition period thereafter –if agreed) unless they have or obtain citizenship of a member state (e.g. the Irish Republic). I ‘m probably confused, but I don’t see how this could be a unilateral matter for the UK parliament through an amendment in the Withdrawal Bill. But UK citizens and Gibraltarians may have a case in law (but probably not… Read more »
Citizens rights have never been top of this governments Brexit agenda – its just become an ideological delusional dream now for the hard right Tories driving us out. I agree with Dafydd Wigley and resent my European freedom taken away from me and particularly from my children !