Category Archives: Freedom of Movement

Citizen of Nowhere

Theresa May caused something of a storm of controversy when she announced to the annual Tory Party Conference in October last year that “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.” I’m happy to wear that as a badge of honour, for I do believe that I am a citizen of the world, and I am saddened by the surge of populism and narrow isolationism that has swept across the USA and the UK in recent years. As an inhabitant of this planet, I believe that we all have a responsibility to do our part to tackle climate change, social inequality, and generally care for our fellow human being. I too am going to go out on a limb and say something equally controversial, and that is that nationalism is a form of discrimination, and while may be followed with honest intentions, by its very definition it means the prioritisation of a group of people based solely on a label of nationhood.

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Flying South For The Winter

Faced with mounting public pressure (fuelled by biased hate-filled reporting from the likes of The Daily Mail, and The Sun) David Cameron pledged to cut net migration to the UK to “tens of thousands”, yet despite implementing a myriad of policy changes designed to make the UK a less attractive destination, migration to the UK continued unabated. As it turns out, all that was required was for the rest of the world to see the truth of the scale of an ugly, suppressed (or unconscious) bias of Britons against foreigners. The EU referendum campaign, with misleading pictures of refugees and countless depictions of migrants as “benefit tourists” taking advantage of the country, is considered to be the single most significant factor in determining why people would vote to leave.

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Trouble Brewing for Guinness

The Irish border poses one of the biggest challenges for Theresa May’s government in achieving the EU exit that she has set out. Leaving the customs union – a requirement if the UK is to be free to negotiate its own trade deals – almost certainly would introduce the requirement for a customs border between the Ireland and the UK.

This poses a big problem for Northern Ireland, and for businesses in both countries that operate across the border. A well known example is the drink synonymous with Ireland, brewed at St James’ Gate in Dublin, which is driven to Belfast for canning, and then driven back to Dublin for onward distribution. A customs border, even if tariff free, would potentially add delays and certainly would add administrative costs to this constant cross border model. The brewery would presumably need to either source a different canning partner within Ireland, at a cost of jobs in Belfast, or risk losing market share as the additional overheads are priced into the drink, making it less competitive.

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You may take our EU, but you will never take our Freedom

Of movement, that is. It is hard to describe the feeling of dejection, and the frustration with my fellow countrymen, that I felt as the results of the EU referendum became clear. The people of the UK had voted to leave the European Union. The one question going round and round in my head without respite, was “Why?”.

I appreciate that the benefits of Freedom of Movement that I have enjoyed, are certainly not typical of the average British citizen, and are certainly of the more obvious in nature. In the December of 2007, I applied for a role within the organisation that I was working, the details of which were shrouded in secrecy, and related to a project only referred to in code names. By the time I learned that I had been successful in landing the job, I was already en route to visit my parents’ house in the Charente region of France, where we would have our family get together over Christmas.

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