Both Reading MPs vote against EU citizens right to remain in the UK after Brexit

After a parliamentary debate on 19 October, both Reading’s Conservative MPs, Rob Wilson and Alok Sharma, voted against a motion calling on the government to ensure that European Union (EU) nationals living in the country retain their current right to live and work in the UK, if the UK leaves the EU.

The motion was brought by the SNP’s Joanna Cherry who said in her opening statement:

… the Government have refused to guarantee … the rights of EU nationals who have made their home in the United Kingdom. In the meantime, in England and Wales hate crime has soared and xenophobic rhetoric is common in the mainstream media and, sadly, sometimes in the mouths of Ministers.

Robin Walker, the parliamentary under secretary of state for exiting the EU, argued that the motion should be rejected :

The Government want the same fair treatment for British and EU citizens. That is a sensible position to take, and the Government are confident that they will be able to achieve their aim in agreement with the EU.

Both Rob Wilson, whose Reading East constituency includes Katesgrove and Redlands, and Alok Sharma, whose Reading West constituency includes Whitley, campaigned to stay within the EU but voted to reject the motion [ref 4].

2011 census data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) includes data on the country of birth and passports of people in all parts of England and Wales. Such data is not direct evidence of how many people’s residency rights could be affected by Brexit (the British exit of the EU) negotiations because the data is five years old, some people may have multiple passports, we don’t yet know what the negotiations will produce, and some non-UK but EU citizens may have rights to live and work in the UK irrespective of UK status. For example, there is a long standing agreement with the Republic of Ireland that pre-dates either country joining the EU (or EEC, as it then was) that permits nationals from either country to live and work in the other.

With that caveat in mind, here are the ONS’s 2011 statistics for residents born in the EU or with EU passports (excluding UK and Ireland) [refs 1,2], expressed both as raw numbers and the percentage of the area’s population.

  Born in EU (ex UK & Ireland) … as percentage EU passport (ex UK & Ireland) … as percentage
Katesgrove (ward) 987 9.9% 1081 10.9%
Redlands (ward) 752 7.5% 752 7.5%
Whitley (ward) 447 3.9% 507 4.4%
Reading Borough Council (local authority) 9887 6.3% 10215 6.6%
Reading East (constituency) 6119 5.6% 6177 5.6%
Reading West (constituency) 5044 4.9% 5119 5%

ONS statistics also show there were 27,001 people born outside the UK, Ireland and the EU who lived within Reading Borough in 2011, about 17.3% of the total population [ref 3]. The residency rights of non-EU nationals is unlikely to be directly affected by Brexit negotiations.

Links and references

  1. ONS table : passports held, 2011 (KS205EW)
  2. ONS table : country of birth (detailed), 2011 (QS203EW)
  3. ONS table : country of birth, 2011 (KS204EW)
  4. Rights of EU nationals debate
  5. Alok Sharma’s own website and voting record
  6. Rob Wilson’s own website and voting record
  7. Office of National Statistics