Lord Goldsmith’s paper on British Citizenship has excited a lot of comment in Britain. Michael White just wonders, if ain’t broke, why fix it? Chicken Yoghurt just isn’t keen on Patriotism of any description. The CEP blog is not impressed either, saying the proposals are skewed towards making the English buy into Britishness and everyone else doing what they like. Rick MUir reckons the whole furore is obscuring the fact that there is a need for more ceremony. But the real kicker, for the Irish at least, his is proposal to bring down the curtain on Republic of Ireland nationals’ right to vote in Westminster elections. That would mean that were Catriona Ruane, for instance, to stand for election in South Down, she could not vote for herself. Gerry Adams could, since although presumably an Irish citizen he was born inside the UK and therefore would remain legally entitled to vote for himself in West Belfast.
If anything the consequences in Northern Ireland would be marginal. But in Britain, the largest single source of people born outside the UK come from the Republic: about 70,000 more Republic of Ireland-born people (537,100) than Indian-born (467,600). That’s a big change. And not a decision any one in the Labour Party would take lightly (since the Irish in Britain are a still prominent group amongst its own party activists).
Ciaran has more of the detail and explores the historic ambiguity of the relationship between the UK and the Republic.