Peers warned not to ‘stand in the way’ of ending freedom of movement as Lords debate immigration bill
- Credit: Archant
Peers have made a last-ditch attempt to fight for freedom of movement after Brexit as the immigration bill is debated in the House of Lords.
The Bill, which will end free movement and deliver a points-based immigration system, has already cleared the Commons but faces a rough ride in the Lords from both sides.
Green party peer Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle said the ending of free movement across the EU marked another step in the 'robbing of millions of Britons of rights they were born with' and warned she would oppose it.
She explained: 'Clause 1 is a key step by which freedom of movement for Britons and to Britain ends.
'I believe that we should not allow the destruction of rights and freedoms for Britons to pass unmarked, which is why I have put down a simple amendment that Clause 1 should not stand part of the bill'.
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Lord Paddick, for the Lib Dems, says rather than closing the country as Brexiteers were expecting, the UK is opening it up to far more countries without enforcement as a result of agreements with individual countries such as New Zealand and Australia.
'Apparently the end of so-called 'uncontrolled immigration from the EU' - itself was a fallacy was a major factor and potentially a deciding factor in the referendum on our continued membership of the European Union.
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'If Leavers believe the UK is taking back control of our borders at the end of the transition period, the evidence is they have been misled.'
Supporting the Lib Dem peer, Labour's Lord Adonis said his party was also concerned about the 'specific and defined consequences' of losing freedom of movement.
He explained: 'We could find that in the guise of taking back control, we've actually lost significant further control over the immigration system', before adding: 'If that were to happen, the British public would feel a really deep - and deeper than now - sense of the betrayal over the whole way the immigration system is being managed'.
Defending the ending of free movement, Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford said: 'It's of paramount importance that as an independent sovereign state, the UK must have the ability to forge its own immigration policy and depart from EU law.
'The people of the UK gave us the mandate to end free movement when they voted to leave the EU and the government gave a commitment in its manifesto to deliver on that mandate.'
Lady Williams warned peers that they 'should not stand in the way of delivering what is a priority for the people of this country'.
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