This young Tory MP is 26 years old so Nearly all of her life she has lived under the Four Freedoms entrenched in the Treaty of Rome (or its subsequent revisions). These freedoms are:
▪️Freedom of movement of goods
▪️Freedom of movement of people
▪️Freedom of movement of services
▪️Freedom of movement of capital
The freedoms underpin the Single Market, the Customs Union and the rationale of the European Union. Although some non EU countries also adopt the four freedoms Britain has said it will not do this and both the Home Secretary and MPs like Ms Davison boast about our abandonment of them – especially Freedom of Movement.
I was born nearly 50 years before Ms Davison but there is more than just a generational chasm between us. I have seen the Freedoms in action. They work – especially Freedom of Movement which gives us all, but particularly ambitious young people of Ms Davison’s age, opportunities that would have been unthinkable when I was 26. The freedom to live, work, love and travel across thirty countries of Europe is a driver of personal and national progress that makes it something to cherish.
I have lived and worked in two countries of continental Europe – The Netherlands when I was in my early thirties and Spain when I was in semi retirement. In Holland I was welcomed as a European citizen from a country the Dutch much admired. Some of our neighbours saw the freeing from tyranny inspired and fought for by my parents’ generation of Brits and our allies as noble and worthy of the greatest praise. I never had to wait long for a glass of Heineken or Grolsh from these older Dutch friends !
The abolition of Freedom of Movement will make us unique in Europe for our insularity and divisiveness. Young Spaniards or Dutchmen and women will be subject to demeaning and arbitrary rules if they want to come here. I doubt they’ll bother to undergo such indignities when there are thirty other European countries who will welcome them as of right.
And what about our young Brits? Today in normal times they can test themselves as I once did and work across the continent without restriction. Isn’t that a right worth keeping?
I don’t think Ms Davison has thought this through. Surely she can see that only a narrow English exceptionalism would erect the barriers to movement she is praising. Surely as a nation we’re better than that?