After the result of the EU referendum became clear, some on the Leave side merely carried on as before, lording it over the 48% of voters who chose the Remain side. But one of those who had backed Vote Leave at least made a sensible and pragmatic gesture: (then) Labour MP Gisela Stuart advocated for EU citizens living in the UK to have their status protected, for them to be able to carry on their lives as before.
“Ms Stuart, former co-chair of the Vote Leave campaign, said the government should make clear ‘soon’ that EU citizens in the UK - about three million people - will be allowed to stay after Brexit … She said the government should 'take the initiative' and say it was protecting EU citizens' rights and that it expected the same treatment for UK nationals abroad”. She was clear as to where her instincts led her.
“There is wide agreement, among the public, politicians and business, that EU citizens are welcome here and that the government should make clear they can stay … This is the right thing to do and what the Leave campaign promised all along”. Sad to say, by February the following year, she decided against backing that pledge.
After the British Future inquiry confirmed what Ms Stuart had outlined, telling the press “Britain should make the first move to demonstrate goodwill”, came a Commons vote of which Steve Peers of the University of Essex - who was on the Inquiry panel - observed “on Wednesday night … She voted against an amendment to the Brexit bill - tabled by her own party - that would have guaranteed those rights”. What was her problem?
“The amendment would not have blocked Brexit; rather it would have guaranteed EU citizens’ rights separately from triggering article 50”. Peers concluded “if the inquiry were reconvened for whatever reason, I wouldn’t serve with her again and be a figleaf for her nakedly cynical tactics”. Tactics which, in the Lords, remain as in the Commons.
Now Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston, she had the chance last night to make amends. So what happened? On Amendments 15, 18, 19 and 20 on the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, she voted four times No. Four times against moves to preserve EU Citizens’ rights, and status. Four more betrayals.
It’s not as if she is beholden to any political party - she sits as a non-affiliated member of the Lords. Maybe one day there will be an explanation, a rowing back, even. But for now, for all those EU citizens to whom she gave hope, there is nothing more than the sure and certain knowledge that she sold them down the river. And seems unconcerned.
But then, she took British Citizenship long ago not to need to care. And so she does not.