Stopping freedom of movement cuts both ways

by Femi Oluwole | 04.05.2018

“We must take back control of our borders!” we were told during the referendum. We must stop the EU’s free movement of people because, according to Nigel Farage, the EU doesn’t let governments regulate immigration. That was a lie which he corrected in 2017. But there’s also a more important point: stopping freedom of movement cuts both ways.

You can’t vote against the freedom of other European citizens to live and work in the UK without expecting UK citizens to still have complete freedom to live in 31 other countries across Europe. And yet that’s the vote that was made in 2016. But why? Did we think we were better than other European citizens? Or did no one really see it coming? Was the idea that UK voters could even be presented with the option to take away such a fundamental birthright from themselves too ludicrous to contemplate? Let alone that they would actually vote to do it.

The consequences will fall disproportionately on younger generations, who will find living, loving and working across Europe harder after Brexit.

Take the Erasmus+ programme which lets young people study abroad. We don’t need to be an EU country to participate in this – after all, Turkey and Macedonia do already. But gaining the skills and experience of studying abroad seems bittersweet if you don’t get to freely live and work abroad afterwards.

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Or what if you meet someone special abroad? Those people who could have seamlessly started a life together must now apply for residency with the national authorities or consider marrying immediately.

They say free movement is just for the elite. The truth is almost the exact opposite. Right now you have the same right to move to Madrid as a Premier League footballer. A system where you have to apply and therefore compete for visas, that’s where you get inequality. UK tuition fees are £9,250 per year. Thanks to freedom of movement, and the EU’s rules over discriminating against nationality, we can go study in France where tuition is practically free. I’ve done a ski season, working in a hotel in France alongside people who had never been to university. Free movement is literally a tool against elitism.

The most attractive CVs in the modern world have multiple countries on them. In the EU, Brits have the upper hand because “English native-speaker” is like gold on a CV across the Channel. Brexit holds back UK CVs, handing a major advantage to other European citizens. Employers will always choose the candidate who is immediately available over the one whose visa is still pending.

Brexit means careers that will never start, friends who’ll never meet, romances that will never blossom, and children who’ll never be born. If you were born after 1974, the only adult identity you’ve ever known is being both a British and EU citizen. That’s the demographic that voted to Remain. We feel closer to Europe than older generations ever did.

Brexit is stealing our identity and our access to friends, careers and partners on the other side of the Channel. All because people like Farage – a man who met his German wife on a business trip in Frankfurt, and whose kids will therefore retain the rights we’re losing – convinced voters that because the UK hadn’t  been enforcing the EU’s restrictions on immigration, we needed to end free movement for all future generations of British citizens.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

19 Responses to “Stopping freedom of movement cuts both ways”

  • Freedom of movement as per the eu dictatorship is completely unacceptable and STOPS when we leave. It is madness to allow unrestricted freedom across 28 independent democratic countries of differing cultures. I am more than happy to be restricted in the way I travel which is no different to the way I travel around the rest of the world which is far bigger than the eu!

  • All the fellow pensioners I know are ALL REMAINERS!!!We do NOT need re educating
    on the merits of the EUROPEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY!Several of us were involved and worked very hard for the CAMPAIGN -BRITAIN IN EUROPE!!
    The Brussels PUBLIC SERVANTS do need to come back under the control of the
    Tax paying ELECTORS!

  • The numbers speak for themselves. 3 million plus EU nationals coming to UK and 1 million Brits spread in the 27. No wonder the Brita feel the pressure

  • Eu people come to this country to take low paid unskilled jobs, live off the benefits be it in work or unemployed, uk people retire to Europe and spend, or do skilled high paid work, i think we win or win

  • Thanks Femi, this is one of the most pertinent pieces on Brexit that I have so far read.

    I find it really hard to accept that it was ever legitimate to put to the general public a vote on depriving me of vital rights. You know, little things like the right to my home and livelihood. I don’t blame people for voting, even when I disagree with their choice. I do blame David Cameron completely for putting such a stupid question before the electorate.


  • Completly agree with this article. The next generation of Brits will be robbed of their rights to move around Europe. The prospect of having to apply for a visa in advance is a nightmare scenario. Alot of people treat a trip to Amsterdam as they would a trip to Bournemouth. Just imagine the outcry if we had to fill in forms in advance for the latter!

    In a market, the economic logic of people moving around to where the vacancies are should be self-evident, but also, the cultural benefits of Europeans working and associating together are enormous, not only for the indviduals’ personal development, but also for the future stability and good relations in Europe. The Brexiteers’ call that we are leaving the EU but not leaving Europe, is completly misleading. Putting up obstacles to travel and moving around Europe, will inevitably reduce contacts and dealings. The Brexiteers insular mindset would be imposed on everybody.
    One possible way of ameliorating this situation, would be stay in the EEA/EFTA grouping, i.e. the Single Market. Though, clearly second best to deleting Brexit, it would remove at a stroke much of the redtape and bureaucracy from otherwise having to be classed as citizens from a ‘third country’ i.e. as complete outsiders.

    As an aside, it would be most interesting to know why Mr Farage visited the German Embassy last year, something he was very quick to class as ‘personal business’. Normally, you only visit an Embassy because you want some sort of right to a permit or licence. Given Mr Farage’s central role in denying other citizens’ rights, I think we should be told.

  • I don’t mean any disrespect to you or your opinions but I’m afraid I disagree with this article on 4 aspects. Nigel Farage is absolutely correct in the fact that we MUST take back FULL control of our borders at ALL costs & all our laws at ALL costs. Freedom of movement including short-term visa-free travel for EU nationals MUST also end at ALL costs.
    The 1st & main issue this article fails to recognise is safety & security concerning our borders. Freedom of movement & visa-free travel for EU citizens wishing to visit our country is NO LONGER viable because the terrorist threat level in our country is FAR too high. In fact our country is a prime target for mass barbaric attacks by Islamic extremists as was proven by those in London & Manchester last year. Freedom of movement policies do NOT allow us to make full security checks on all new arrivals prior to or upon arrival at our borders, allowing absolutely ANYONE, including those with very serious criminal records & seriously adverse medical histories to pass through our borders pourously therefore, this policy puts our lives in VERY serious danger. So much so that even visa-free travel for short-term visitors MUST end at ALL costs. We need to e.g be introducing our own visa-waiver screening program like they have in the likes of Australia & USA plus, we also need be under the EU’s new ETIAS program as soon as it’s introduced, whether we are in a transition period or not, otherwise many of us (including myself) will feel too unsafe travelling to our nearest neighbours & more importantly, we MUST be given back our FULL rights to refuse entry to anyone, INCLUDING EU nationals, who are suspected of posing any form of threat to our society. We also need the right to request that all non-UK nationals to have a full & officially signed medical assessment certificate to prove they are medically fit to enter our country in order to reduce the risks of epidemics of communicable diseases like the occurance of ebola a few years back. This the main reason why I voted for brexit. Our safety & national security MUST come first at absolutely ANY cost, so a little extra fees & paperwork e.g registration prior to entry for new migrants may be a minor inconvenience, but it’s WELL worth it in exchange for coming back home alive & in one piece. Our lives are NOT worth risking in exchange for us being able to enter EU states unrestricted & vice versa. Freedom of movement is completely & utterly UNACCEPTABLE & MUST stop regardless of any costs & inconvenience.
    The 2nd aspect this article fails to recognise is the adverse financial effect uncontrolled immigration is having on our families. Most of the migrants that come here are virtually unskilled. The minimum wage does not apply in some EU countries so the ECJ says the minimum wage must not apply to nationals from those countries working here. As a result, many multi-national businesses are exploiting this by prioritising EU migrants over OUR workers when it comes to job applications as they know employing an EU migrant means less salary costs. This is unfair to our workers & MUST stop at ALL costs asap. More & more of OUR OWN workers are being pushed out of our own unemployment market in favour of EU migrants, yet those same families don’t have the funds to find work in mainland Europe. Uncontrolled immigration is driving more of our unemployed, our unskilled workers & our low-income families deeper into poverty with no way out of it.
    The 3rd aspect the article fails to recognise again applies to migrants but to a lesser extent. Our NHS, our financial benefits system & our council services are being crippled & under-resourced due to the amount of migrants entering our country & due to strict rules in the treatment of immigrants, especially those from the EU, migrants are, again, being prioritised over us when it comes to waiting lists for school places, treatment on the NHS, council housing etc. This is again having an extremely detrimental affect on our families.
    The 4th & final aspect the article fails to recognise is the detrimental effects that EU rules are having on our country. It’s Common Fisheries Policy is damaging our fishing & coastal communities due to it’s inadequate fishing quotas. Fishermen are losing literally THOUSANDS of pounds in vital earnings having to throw fish back into the sea due to the quota limit being exceeded. Their rules are also causing severe damage to our aviation sector with their arcane rules, especially on airline ownership & flying rights. To have the right to even take off from our airports for an EU country, all UK-based airlines MUST be at least 50% owned by an EU national investor which will potentially lead to massive financial losses for our own investors & we would also have to fully capitulate to their demands that we continue to give up control of our own laws to the ECJ. These rules will also not sit well with other-non EU countries who’s potential bilateral aviation deals with us are strictly conditional on all our airlines being 100% British owned, particularly USA who announced threats to cut us off from their lucrative aviation market if we choose to continue aligning with the EU’s rules, which they claim, mean we will be breaching ICAO rules whicj they are NOT prepared to chance doing. This will be absolutely DEVASTATING for our country as we absolutely CANNOT afford to lose our access to better aviation markets outside the EU & if it means grounding ALL UK-EU flights completely then SO BE IT.
    As to your article about rights after brexit, they will remain unchanged. You will still have the right to travel worldwide, you will still have the right to meet new people overseas, to live, study & work in the EU etc. They form part of our basic human rights, but what will & MUST change are how you apply for these. The safety & national security of all citizens MUST be considered before anything else as I’ve said earlier so it’s absolutely VITAL that all EU nationals fall into line with third party countries & introduce visas for short-term holidaymakers & business travellers, student visas for the blatantly obvious, specialised visas for those who have family already living in our country along with a new work permit system for new migrants. As for marriage overseas, all you need to do is continue following local custom that apply to where you live with very few changes. In fact all our laws (if we ever get back control of them, that is) will ensure all EU nationals follow the same rules as all other third-party countries making all our laws & legal systems fair for everyone.

  • Brexiters leaving comments here really are a bit dim sometimes…

    In case anyone didn’t realise, the UK ALREADY controls who enters and exits the country. Every time you pass through ports, data of those arriving and leaving is matched to check who stayed behind in the UK (who maybe shouldn’t)

    The UK ALREADY controls non-eu immigration. And just look how incompetent they are even at the non-eu part. Do you brexiters really think that on brexit, as immigration workload doubles overnight, that the government is magically and miraculously going to become competent at something they are already useless at? REALLY???

    Right now, today, and without even needing to leave the EU, the UK could- if it wanted to – introduce a national resident registration scheme for the whole population, just like EU countries have been doing for decades. Nothing is stopping the UK from doing this, but UK gov won’t do it.

    Brexiters need to get it into their thick heads that not even brexit is magically and miraculously going to solve immigration and the failings of an incompetent govt that doesn’t know its a*s from its elbow. #toriesout

  • There are many reasons people voted for brexit, yet people like yourselves love to simplify it and blame Nigel Farrage. If you truly believe he is the arsonist of the piece, who handed him the matches?

    I didn’t want to leave the European Union but felt it had become too controlling in many ways. David Cameron tried to get reform – this was rebuffed. The EU wanted to continue on the same tired old path, intent on ever controlling, closer Union.

    I dont want a united states of Europe, I don’t want a European army. I look at how much the EU has gained since the original vote to join and wonder how it will look in another 20-40 years. This frightened me more than brexit.

    If you want to blame anyone, knock on the door of the European Union. Somehow they managed to push one of its biggest contributors in to leaving, with possibly others to follow. All because it wants us to have a cake we cannot eat!

  • Article 20 TFEU could be read as ceating EU citizenship as being
    separate from and additional to citizenship of a member state.
    Further it could be interpreted as requiring the EU to protect
    the INDIVIDUAL rights of EU citizens.

    Art20(1): 1. Citizenship of the Union is hereby established.
    Every person holding the nationality of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to and not replace national citizenship.

    Further Art50(3) on Exit states:
    The Treaties shall cease to apply to the STATE in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement … etc.

    There is no mention of the withdrawal of citizenship from any individual. Every
    UK citizen born before 23.00 BST on 29/3/19 will have EU citizenship additional
    to UK citizenship. It is only those born after that point in time who will not gain
    EU citizenship by virtue of being a UK citizen.

    Can anyone identify the EU provision that authorises loss of citizenship to
    existing citizens just because the treaties cease to apply to the member
    state of which they are citizens?

    Are some EU citizens more equal than others – in that they can be
    dispossessed of their citizenship without due individual process?

    Art20(2): Citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights and be subject to
    the duties provided for in the Treaties. These rights shall be exercised in accordance with the conditions and limits defined by the Treaties and by
    the measures adopted thereunder.

    What conditions, limits or adopted measures permit removal of those
    rights from citizens?

    These are important questions.
    Where can one find the answers?

  • In full agreement with this article, but free movement will also shatter the dreams of the older generation who were hoping for retirement in countries like Spain, Portugal and in the South of France.

  • I keep having visions of the rock with a larch lap fence backed up by Leylandiii all the way around it. I am sure that will make some of the people here feel much safer. Even after all these months the moronic uneducated selfishness of the extreme Leavers can leave me in despair. I suppose pointing out that Freedom of Movement has a lot more importance and influence than their 2 weeks in Benidorm or Disneyland (“it’s the WORLD, innit?”) is a waste of breath?

  • It’s often said that people studied, travelled, worked and retired to Europe prior to 1973, and people from outside the EU also do so. What is never looked at is how many per head of the population this represents and what their income bracket was/is. Maybe someone should study the question. Has the EU made this kind of freedom available to everyone, whereas before it was the preserve of the ‘elite’? Ironic if so.

  • @ Teresa
    I’m sure you are right about elites having access to move around and settle in Europe prior to 1973. There is a general rule about immigration which overrides all policies, and that is that millionaires are welcome everywhere. Brexit will hit ordinary citizens.
    It is interesting to note that there is a small minority of British expats living in Europe who make no bones about supporting Brexit. At first sight this may seem perverse like turkeys voting for Christmas, unless another principle is coming into play, which is the “I’m all right Jack” principle. I suspect many expat millionaires may fall into that category.
    The EU is about bringing the ordinary citizens of Europe together.

  • The article made an error stating “if you were born after 1974 you would only know EU citizenship”. The EU did not exist until the early 90’s. Before that it was the EEC (European Economic Community).

  • The EU is full of racist countries. Freedom of movement allows for the rise of neo nazism in the UK. Just look at the racist football chants from mentegnegro which is on the EU agenda for membership by 2025. I have had ethic friends experience racism from new polish arrivals who didn’t realise the Indian/Vietnamese population had been here since the 1950s when their grandparents arrived and it was actually the polish/eu new commers who were the ‘immigrants’. It’s also ridiculous when newly arrived Europeans say to brown people in the UK ‘your English is good’. Of course it would be if they were born in the uk! Lastly you can still travel to the eu you will just need a visa and a stamp in your passport, the same way you would do if you travelled to Asia or America. Moreover agree with other comments that’s the freedom of movement is not proportionate. A large proportion of Europeans want to come to London whereas most British people don’t want to live in EU countries. It must be because the UK has better infrastructure and opportunities which other EU countries on the whole can’t offer. Otherwise why do so many EU people come here?