ICYMI: I’m being stripped of my citizenship – along with 65 million other Britons | David Shariatmadari, The Guardian
2016/10/15 Leave a comment
Interesting take on the impact of Brexit, precisely of those more mobile citizens:
But the issue of EU citizenship isn’t quite closed – or rather, it needn’t be.
The EU citizen was created in 1993. It is a person who, across the union, cannot be discriminated against on the basis of nationality; can move and reside freely; can vote for and stand as a candidate in European parliament and municipal elections; and is entitled to consular protection outside the EU by European diplomats. More than that, citizenship established a identity, separate from nationality, shared between individuals in the union. A common bond of the kind that Theresa May otherwise admires. In the 23 years since, cultural, political, academic and social exchange has become the norm. What might have initially seemed like a paper exercise has become durable and meaningful to millions. Eurosceptics hate it, no doubt. That doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
Neither was it an arrangement entered into lightly. It was the result of a treaty, signed, incidentally, by a Conservative government. A treaty is an international promise, and a promise to one’s own people. There was no suggestion at the time that the rights granted would be taken away again. Mass stripping of citizenship had previously only occurred when an alternative citizenship was created, and often following war: for example, when Algeria won independence from France, and Algerian nationality came into being.
As Kochenov points out, Europe has had a flexible attitude towards citizenship in the past. It has had to, as a result of the massive changes in the territories governed by EU members. That means there is some hope that something of the “spirit” of 1993 could be salvaged. Or there was, until very recently.
The only way these rights could be maintained for British people would be for the UK to agree some kind of “associate nationality” with the union of which it is no longer a member. With political will, that could be achieved. However, it would require reciprocal benefits, most likely equivalent rights for EU nationals in Britain. In apparently opting for “hard Brexit”, without freedom of movement, May has made any such deal extremely unlikely.
Many of the arguments over how to conduct Brexit are made in transactional terms. Can we swap security cooperation for financial passporting rights? The right of EU nationals to stay put for lower trade tariffs? A customs union for, I don’t know, making Boris Johnson governor of St Helena?
In the meantime, a solemn social contract made between a government and its people a quarter of a century ago is being torn up. Citizenship isn’t a game, to echo one of Theresa May’s most resonant phrases. So don’t pretend to value it while treating it like so much red tape.