Sunday, 8 April 2018

Lords amendment on the Brexit Bill.

My letter to a couple of members of the House of Lords...

Brexit shall, I fear, be the greatest disaster to overcome the United Kingdom in centuries. 

Having grown up in Croydon and studied in Manchester, I moved from the UK to the Netherlands in 1973. I am a British emigrant with two children who had a Dutch mother. The children are half English but only have Dutch passports. If Brexit goes ahead they will no longer have the freedom of movement that allowed me to settle in the UK. They would have retained that freedom, had I applied for British passports for them before they were eighteen. But when they turned eighteen (my son Ian in 2015), there was no shadow on the horizon and no apparent need to apply for British passports.  Like all of us, they have benefitted from the shared European heritage that gives them the freedom to move and settle anywhere in the EU, including in England where they spent a considerable time in their childhood. 

Indeed, in the last two years, my son has been able to take advantage of the freedom of movement. As a talented young jazz musician and member of the Dutch National Youth Jazz Orchestra, he has visited the UK to perform in a cooperative venture with the British National Youth Jazz Orchestra and the German one, BuJazzO. The apt name Three Nations under One Groove reminds us of our shared cultural heritage and the benefits for all of a cooperation like this. If Brexit were to go ahead, ventures like this would be a lot more difficult. In addition, the plight of all European artists and musicians in the case of Brexit would be awful. Actors, musicians, filmmakers, artists now have the freedom to move freely and work where they like within the EU. Much as Vincent van Gogh did 140 years ago.

The very close result in an advisory referendum - voted for by only 37% of the restricted electorate (which excluded Brits who had moved abroad, Europeans who had settled in the UK and the 16-17-year-olds who were allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum) - cannot possibly justify the devastating constitutional changes now imminent. Even less so since, in the two years following the referendum, there has been absolutely no progress towards a deal in any way comparable to the present extremely advantageous one. 

In addition, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the referendum campaign was riddled with dirty tricks. The result itself has been thrown into doubt and, in the meantime, many British people are changing their minds. I am delighted to see that attempts to curb the freedom of MPs in the House of Commons are not effective in the House of Lords. I'm counting on you to protect the interests of all citizens and inhabitants of the UK. 

Please vote in favour of the "Parliamentary motions on a referendum", Lord Newby's amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill. 

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