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Nov 2nd, 2016

People-powered Brexit meeting with Amber Rudd

By Freya Campbell

On the 15th October, we met with our local MP Amber Rudd to talk about our concerns surrounding Brexit and present the 38 Degrees ‘People Powered Vision’, built by the votes of over 250,000 members.

Overall, the meeting went pretty well. Though we’re all of different opinions, everything stayed very friendly, and we all felt as though Ms Rudd listened to each of us.

After the usual introductions, Nick kicked off the meeting by reading out his own paper on the rise in hate-crime against foreign-born citizens following the vote to leave. Amber Rudd acknowledged that hate-crime had risen a full 40% in the weeks following the Brexit vote, though they are now starting to fall back to previous levels.

She also stated that the government has every intention of granting current EU citizens definite rights of residence, though Prime Minister May is waiting for the promise of the same rights for UK citizens in the EU before taking action. Until then, they are doing their best to ensure EU citizens feel secure.

On the end of this, Ms Rudd’s previous statement that businesses should publish the numbers of foreign-born employees came up. Though her position has not changed, Ms Rudd did admit that she has learned to be more careful with how she speaks about such matters. Her position is that the government should consult on the subject, but that the numbers won’t be published for public consumption.

To end the meeting, David brought up 38 Degrees’ people powered Brexit plan. We explained the nature of the plan to Ms Rudd, including how it was created through internet consultation with other 38 Degrees members, and our belief that Brexit should be a matter for wider debate.

To highlight concern for foreign-born workers, David mentioned his experiences with the social care system, and how many staff at all levels are international workers, many of whom did not migrate here with the intention of going into social care, but were willing to work there anyway.

In response, Ms Rudd reaffirmed that current EU citizens would not be made to leave, but that there should only be modest needs to top up the workforce with immigration. She went on to mention high levels of unemployment among young people, and the government’s wish to promote apprenticeships, especially in care work, for example.

The meeting totalled 20-25 minutes, running over the intended 10-15. We were all able to bring up our concerns and get some reassurance. Many of Ms Rudd’s responses were neutral, with much reference to future plans rather than current action, but overall stayed relevant to our questions and she made an effort to answer in full.

Amber Rudd listened carefully to all of our points and gave genuine responses. While this may not cause significant change, the point of the meeting was for us to voice our concerns about Brexit, and we feel that was definitely achieved.

David Attwood and Nick Rowland

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