This article was first published on ConservativeHome.
Over the past few weeks we have seen a new proposal in the European Parliament to treat Brexit voters with contempt. It has been gathering support from those who wish to block or belittle the EU Referendum result at every opportunity. One notable supporter of this idea is habitual referendum loser, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. It has also, somewhat surprisingly, received support from the Executive Editor of ConservativeHome, Mark Wallace, albeit for different reasons.
The proposal – which was first highlighted by Get Britain Out – calls for the EU to discriminate against UK citizens on the basis of how they voted in the EU Referendum.
Charles Goerens MEP (Luxembourg), argues that those who “feel and wish to be part of the European project” of a former Member State (i.e. ‘Remain’ voters in the UK’s EU Referendum), should be given the enhanced status of “associate citizens”. This status would give ‘Remain’ voters free movement rights and the ability to elect MEPs to the European Parliament.
Goerens’ amendment was initially made to a report written by none other than the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator – Guy Verhofstadt. Verhofstadt’s new idea is to include it in a separate resolution as part the UK’s exit negotiations. This does not change the practical issues with the amendment, – simply making the resolution a part of the Brexit negotiations will not be binding due to its inconsistency with the treaties.
The actions of the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator are nothing more than political posturing. According to Verhofstadt, the amendment was withdrawn from his report to allow him to raise it during the Brexit negotiations. It was really withdrawn because the European Parliament would have voted against it, as they did with a similar proposal in 2014.
Goerens initially envisaged this new status to be free of charge. However, Verhofstadt saw an opportunity to turn this proposal into a new money-making scheme for the EU, and has now suggested charging UK citizens to become associate citizens.
Some have suggested this would be a nominal sum, but when Goerens was interviewed on LBC by Nick Ferrari, he had no idea what the sum would be. We find this very hard to believe, as the EU is currently clamouring for the funds it will lose due to Brexit. They will no doubt seek to regain a significant chunk of the UK’s £10 billion gross contribution. As a result, the cost of this would be astronomical.
So-called associate citizens having the ability to elect MEPs to represent them in the European Parliament would be particularly absurd.
This is clearly an attempt to create a system of law impacting the people of this country to subvert the wishes of the people in the EU Referendum, subverting the UK’s own sovereignty. If the final proposal is not to create laws relating to the UK, then what is the point of the proposal? To elect MEPs to sit in silence in the European Parliament?
Additionally, this proposal does not set a good precedent, as these MEPs would be elected by “those who feel part of the European Project”, in other words ‘Remain’ voters. This means the electoral franchise would be transformed into those who simply agree with each other.
In reality the UK should be represented by the UK Government on the international plane, not by third rate politicians elected by bad losers in the EU Referendum.
The proposal also has a second aspect, which would give free movement rights to ‘Remain’ voters. The issue with this is, it would be easy to ‘play’ the system, because there would be no control over who could tick the “I wish to be part of European project” box (unless the final proposal simply depends on paying a fee).
On a positive note, the proposal would never get through, because the UK after Brexit will not have freedom of movement. Therefore, why would EU Member States grant freedom of movement to some of the UK population? Their home electorates simply would not accept it.
Finally, this proposal has major practical and legal issues. If the final proposal requires a belief in the EU project, rather than payment of money, then the entire proposal is likely to be in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, due to its discriminatory nature.
If legal issues do not arise, the practicalities mean EU treaty change would be required, as this relates to citizenship. Therefore, every EU Member State would have to agree to the proposal – something, which as mentioned earlier – is highly doubtful.
We at Get Britain Out are in no doubt this proposal is poorly thought out, and as such would never work in practice. On June 23rd, the people of this country voted for the UK to ‘Leave’ the EU. It is not for certain citizens of a specific political persuasion to subject themselves to a different legal order because they don’t like the Referendum result. It is about time the result is accepted for the good of the UK as a whole. This is, after all, supposed to be a democracy.