Sadly I cannot find a video of my speech on Associate Citizenship of the European Union, so am posting my speech below.
I was delighted to support this motion put forward by Young Liberals, Beaconsfield, Derby and Wycombe Liberal Democrats. The motion was moved by Henry Jones and summated by Thomas Bull.
“Conference, we can all agree that we were dismayed by the EU referendum result and also by Monday’s passage of the Brexit Bill un-amended. And on this Labour were completely useless and complicit with the Tory government’s extreme Brexit.
What I am even more dismayed about, what makes me so absolutely angry is that my rights as an European, the privileges that we all enjoy as citizens of the European Union are being ripped away from us, by the lies, deceit and complicity of the Leave campaign, the Tory government and their Labour enablers.
Regardless of what happens with Brexit; I am a European. And a proud European.
And we are seeing many British citizens, so distraught by the fact that they will lose their rights as European citizens, the freedom to work, live and love within the European Union, making the brave steps of applying for dual nationality where they are able to do so.
The same applies to my family. My mother is Austrian; and my brothers and sister have applied for dual Austrian-British nationality so that they can live either in the UK or in Austria without hindrance, so that they can work wherever their professional and personal lives may take them within the European Union. Unfortunately this option is not available to me, as I was born six months before the law in Austria was changed allowing dual nationality.
But there remain millions of British citizens who do not have the ability through ancestry to apply for citizenship of an EU country, and those many millions of British citizens still want to keep the rights and privileges that so many of us have enjoyed so for many years.
At the moment, for the next few short years, we all have the right to work wherever we want within the EU, we have the right to travel wherever we want within the EU. Why should this be taken away from us?
Conference, the Liberal Democrats are the party of Europe, let us stand up for those who wish to retain their EU rights.
Now detractors of this idea, nationalists on all sides in the UK, will try to argue that this is further EU overreach. That this policy somehow undermines Britishness. That somehow Associate EU Citizenship will erode British Citizenship.
Conference, that argument is nonsense. This is about the freedom of choice. We are not forcing anyone to do something they do not want to do. People can choose.
It’s not going to make us any less British.
It will ensure that we have the choice to access EU citizenship.
Conference, this party is about freedom of choice. Let’s pass this motion and amendment one.