The House of Commons has this week backed a Plaid Cymru motion to allow Welsh, English, Scottish and Northern Irish citizens to retain their European Citizenship after leaving the EU.
The Plaid Cymru debate focused on a legal argument that under international law and European law, it would be illegal to strip individuals of their European citizenship against their will, and called on the Prime Minister to include in her negotiating objectives with the EU a right for UK citizens to retain their European Citizenship following any UK exit from the European Union.
European citizenship gives us the right to travel, live, study and work anywhere in the EU and a wide range of other rights under EU law regarding health, education, work and social security.
Prior to the debate, Plaid Cymru had already secured the support of fellow opposition leaders, Caroline Lucas MP, Ian Blackford MP and Sir Vince Cable MP, as well as fourteen other individuals and organisations such as Open Britain, Best for Britain and the New European newspaper. It has the support of prominent lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC and international law expert, Prof. Volker Roeben.
The party proposes to allow existing European citizens, including all UK nationals, to keep their European citizenships after the UK leaves the EU, and calls on the UK Government to negotiate into the Withdrawal Agreement, the creation of a new 'Associate European Citizenship' model, to allow those who are not already citizens – such as unborn children, to become European citizens after Brexit.
The European Parliament's Brexit Coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt MEP has backed the idea, tweeting: "EU citizenship does not replace our national citizenship, it is additional to it."
Local Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards said:
"Much of the debate following the referendum has surrounded the economic impact of Brexit. There is little doubt in my mind that the best way to protect the Welsh economy is to stay inside the single market and the customs union, and that has been my position from day one. The issue of European Union citizenship rights of UK subjects, however, has not had the level of consideration it deserves.
"In her speech last week, the Prime Minister failed to provide any great clarity on some of the main issues that have concerned MPs and the public in relation to the British Government's Brexit policy. However, despite her hard Brexit policy, she did concede that she would seek to negotiate UK associate membership status with several EU agencies. If that's the case, then why not apply the same principle to citizenship?
"What we are proposing is that, as part of the negotiations, the British Government make the case that those of us who wish to keep our current rights are able to do so, while those who wish to renounce their rights would also be able to do so if they so wished.
"If the British Government is serious about healing the wounds of the referendum, I argue that they should pursue such an initiative with vigour, because it could unite everybody in every part of the British state.
"The House of Commons has debated and has expressed its view in favour of Plaid Cymru's motion to allow our citizens to retain their European Citizenship after Brexit.
"It would be a very strange interpretation of 'taking back control' if the British Government now ignored the will of Parliament. Theresa May and her Brexit Cabinet need to listen to that message."
Notes for editors:
Individuals and organisations supporting the campaign for continued EU Citizenship include:
Leanne Wood AM, Leader of Plaid Cymru
Liz Saville Roberts MP, Westminster leader of Plaid Cymru
Jill Evans MEP, Plaid Cymru MEP
Ian Blackford MP, Leader of the Scottish National Party
Sir Vince Cable MP, Leader of Liberal Democrats
Caroline Lucas MP
Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit Coordinator, EU Parliament
Jolyon Maugham QC
Professor Volker Roeben, Dundee University
Dr Pedro Telles, Senior lecturer of law, Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, Swansea University
The New European newspaper
Best for Britain
Wales for Europe
Our Future Our Choice
UK to Stay
Another Europe is Possible