Below is the speech that I had hoped to use in the 2-day debate to trigger Article 50 last week:
“Thank you Mr. Speaker
The Calder Valley has 19% of its residents who work in manufacturing. We also have a very low unemployment rate at 1.8% – that is 853 people unemployed at this time.
Mr. Speaker, I can take you to numerous factories, high end niche factories as well as production line manufacturing where these factories need more new employees every year than we have unemployed in our constituency, so I can unequivocally say to you that factory owners in the Calder Valley understand and appreciate freedom of movement from the EU. The availability of labour that is easily obtained is what keeps fuelling our factories and without that labour, our factories wouldn’t be in our valley and would have to move, perhaps even to other countries.
Personally I understand the value of immigrants also.
At the age of 5, we were what the Aussie’s still call, “£10 Poms” (The Aussie’s don’t bother about PC ness!) and I know first-hand how beneficial to a growing economy, as Australia’s was in 1968, immigrants can be. In fact I am considered the ‘Black Sheep’ of the family as I am the only one who returned to the UK. Try being in my situation when England is winning the cricket or indeed if Australia is winning (although not very often nowadays) – It’s a no win situation. The abuse and taunts from my own family are disgraceful! Nevertheless, not only have my whole extended family benefitted from immigration but the contributions that we make as immigrants is hugely beneficial to the respective economies of both countries.
So let me re-iterate Mr. Speaker for the benefit of all, in the Calder Valley and also personally, we fully appreciate and understand the value of all immigration whether under the freedom of movement from the EU or from any other country.
That doesn’t mean however Mr. Speaker that there aren’t rules around immigration and criteria set for people to fulfil commitment before being allowed to stay.
In Australia under the £10 passage rules, we had to commit to stay at least 2 years otherwise you had to pay the full cost of all fares back to the government. Similarly, you had to stay in the country for several years before you could apply for permanent resident status and longer still to prove you were worthy to apply for citizenship. The rewards for doing so however meant that being British meant you could enjoy the privilege of dual nationality – something even my children have taken full advantage of on the back of my dual nationality.
Similarly here in the UK we have rules and criteria too. Not just for nationals who come from outside the EU but for those who come from the EU also. Yes, those from the EU have freedom of movement but if they live, work and contribute to this country for a continuous 5 years, then they can apply to become permanent residents. Add a further year to that total and you can apply to become a citizen of this country too.
So in reality, whilst this amendment is a little bit politically motivated, there is an element of uncertainty for those who come to this country in the 5 years before we literally leave the EU.
So the cohort is much less than the amendment would suggest and it is this cohort who in theory would be the only ones subject to any ambiguity about their ongoing status – the people who Hon. Members have suggested have been in this country for many years, working, contributing and even bringing up families, have nothing to fear whatsoever because they already have options which if they choose to would secure their residence and citizenship of this country already.
The government of whatever colour or persuasion in this country has a duty to its residents and citizens first and foremost.
This amendment will fundamentally undermine that very principle. How can ANY government ignore their own citizens and residents over anybody else? How can we totally ignore the rights of British born citizens who chose to live in other parts of the EU over those who chose to do exactly the same here in our country? No other country in the world would do it and neither should we.
Quite simply we can’t
The government have already said that they will treat this issue as a priority of the highest order in the negotiations and Yes the aim is to allow those who chose this country as their home to stay here.
It is a no brainer though – Only if those British Citizens who chose to do exactly the same in other countries of the EU have the same privileges as those who chose to live in the UK.
That is the job of this Government and it is also the job of every one of us here in this House – to protect British Citizens
Mr. Speaker, This amendment has the right intentions at its heart but it is wrong and I cannot support it for that very reason.
Copyright © Craig Whittaker MP 2017. All rights reserved