Keir Starmer has called for all EU nationals in the UK to be given full voting rights as the clock ticks down to Brexit.
The Labour leadership hopeful is calling on the government to give the 3 million EU nationals security after years of doubt and the sense they are only being “tolerated” in the country, he claimed.
EU nationals cannot vote in general elections but can in local government elections, police and crime commissioner, and local and regional mayoral elections.
In a piece for the Guardian, the shadow Brexit secretary wrote: “The government should give all EU nationals living in the UK full voting rights in future elections.
“The way the 3 million have been treated over the last three years is shameful. We were never just ‘tolerating’ EU citizens living in this country.
“They are our neighbours and friends and families. To see their status in doubt devastates not just our sense of justice but of fellowship.”
His intervention 24 hours before Britain leaves the EU is likely to appeal to remain supporters, who make up the bulk of the Labour party membership. He has been criticised previously for having been the joint-architect of Labour’s Brexit policy, which has been cited as a major factor in their catastrophic defeat in December .
Starmer argued for a second referendum and has faced criticism from those who fear he is not well-placed to win back the leave supporters whovoted Tory at the 2019 election.
Stephen Barclay, theBrexit secretary , is due to return to the backbenches after the Whitehall Brexit department is dissolved, which makes Starmer’s role unclear.
Starmer also wrote that after Brexit , the leave-remain divide affecting the country must come to an end. He said: “Defining people by how they voted in June 2016 merely upholds a divide that we must overcome. There are no leavers or remainers anymore. In 2024 there will no leave seats or remain constituencies.”
He will also call for the Labour party to move on from the Brexit debate too, saying: “I will move our party on from the division of the past and remake our party as a democratic movement that faces outwards towards the country not inwards on itself.”