Brexiteers will end up taking away the rights of Remainers if the EU doesn't step in to protect us

By offering an ‘associate citizenship’ the EU could stop an act of political violence being carried out against the 48 per cent – the removal of our European citizenship

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The Independent Online

Remember when Ukip councillor Terence Nathan said this: “Time to start killing these people till Article 50 is invalid, perhaps Remainers will get the message then”?

Or how about Tory councillor Christian Holliday with his petition calling for the Treason Felony Act to be amended to make supporting UK membership of the EU a crime? That's a policy which would put someone like me at risk of life in jail, although I’d hardly be alone. Holliday never explained how he planned to accommodate millions of people behind bars. 

These statements were largely met with contempt and ridicule, while the people who made them were treated as fringe, slightly unhinged individuals best ignored. But should they have been? 

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We have, after all, just witnessed the trial of an unhinged character after an isolated incident, one that ended in the brutal murder of MP Jo Cox. 

Meanwhile Paul “the punch was the best thing that happened to UKIP” Nuttall has been glowering at Remainers, in the wake of his election to replace Nigel Farage as leader of Ukip, while that man-baby poster boy for the party tours the media in a laughable attempt to play the victim.

He claims to have been in receipt of threats but it is not Farage - who has himself repeatedly threatened violence should he not get his own way and bears a heavy burden of responsibility for the coarsening of debate in the UK - who has reason to feel concern. It is, instead, those of us who wanted to say in Europe and who don’t have option of following Farage across the Atlantic where his best bud has just been elected President (come to think of it, America’s welcome to him). The rest of us are largely stuck in the country where the Governing Conservative Party shows every sign of trying to out “alt-right” Farage by careering into Brexit’s lunatic fringe, ignoring the fact that Brexit was only backed by a small majority of those who voted in the EU referendum. They are a minority of the population at large. 

Those of us who voted remain have not quite been rendered stateless by the behaviour of our opponents, and those like Prime Minister Theresa May who have the adopted the zealotry of converts. Not quite. But it is starting to feel that way. 

Fortunately, Europe has been discussing an answer for Europeans of British extraction, which would involve the extension of some form of “associate citizenship” once withdrawal is complete, perhaps for a fee. 

The idea has won the backing of former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who has made himself a champion of the rights of the 48 per cent who voted remain, and goodness me do we need one. 

You only need to look at the people upset by it to recognise what a good idea it is. 

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen characterised it as an attempt to create two classes of British citizen and a trick to stop the UK from leaving the EU. I do sometimes wonder where the Tory Party finds people like him, and how sensible voters feel able to put a cross against their name on the ballot paper. Andrew, this is simply an attempt to stop you committing an act of political violence upon your countrymen by removing their European citizenship from them, something you have no moral right to do. There’s no compunction on you to sign up. It doesn’t stop you from realising your ugly Brexit dreams. Are you really trying to suggest that you don’t have the intelligence to realise that?

Then there was Jayne Adye, director of the Get Britain Out campaign, who claimed that the EU was attempting to “divide the great British public at the exact moment we need unity”. 

Jayne, it is you and your fellow travellers who have divided the British public. You have compounded that division since the referendum campaign. Or did I miss your rushing out to express your outrage when Messrs Nathan and Holliday and all their friends were busy spitting poison about Remainers on the interweb? For your information, many of us see ourselves as both British and European. We don’t see any conflict between the two identities, and nor should there be. May and her colleagues keep claiming that we plan to remain on friendly terms with Europe, after all.

The concept of dual nationality has, anyway, long been established in this country. Until quite recently, the New York born arch Brexiteer Boris Johnson had it. 

Under today’s legal framework, the rather more substantial figure of Winston Churchill would similarly have been entitled to a US passport, through his American mother. 

There is, therefore, no logical case for denying we British Europeans the right to retain our European citizenship at such time as the UK is no longer a member of the EU. 

It is, in fact, rather important for the protection of our interests while we are living in a country whose politicians don’t appear to recognise that they exist.

As well as imposing responsibilities on those who retain that citizenship, it should also confer certain rights upon us beyond the right to work in Europe and, perhaps, the right vote in European elections. That would include the right to have our interests represented by and protected through our European citizenship if the UK Government seeks to deny them to us, as it shows every intention of doing.  

Democracy demands that the 48 are allowed to retain their European citizenship after Brexit. If Bridgen and Adye could but see it, they might realise that there would some advantage to their supporting it. 

Were we in the 48 to have our rights fully protected and defended by them, we might be more inclined to let them get on with their mad project. 

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