One of the reasons that Liberal Democrats are fighting to keep the UK in the EU is that we cherish freedom of movement. It gives British people the opportunity to freely work, be together with their loved ones, study and retire anywhere in the EU. Our current deal as members of the EU allows the UK control of our borders and the ability to refuse entry to criminals and other dangerous individuals.
Freedom of movement has brought the UK tremendous social, economic and cultural benefits. We are lucky to live in an open Europe, where people, goods, services and capital can flow freely. We believe that our shared European identity enriches our British, national and regional identities.
EU citizens make a huge contribution to the UK. 63,000 EU nationals work in the National Health Service in England and 104,000 work in the adult social care sector. Overall ten per cent of the NHS’s doctors and seven per cent of its nurses are EU nationals and seven per cent of social care workers are from the EU. A third of EU doctors working in Scotland are considering leaving, compounding the existing NHS recruitment crisis. Around 13,000 schoolteachers in the UK are EU citizens. Without EU nationals these services would be even more stretched than they already are.
Freedom of movement has also given British creative, sports and tech industries access to the best and brightest talent from the EU, giving those businesses opportunities to grow and contribute to life and prosperity in the UK.
EU citizens are valued members of our communities and we believe that they should be afforded the right to full participation in civic life, including the ability to stand for office and vote in UK referendums, local elections and general elections. We would extend these rights to all EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years or longer and would encourage other EU member states to similarly extend the franchise for their elections.
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