The House of Lords vote to secure EU nationals the right to stay in the UK after Brexit exploded on BBC Question Time, with one audience member suggesting politicians should “listen to Mr Tebbit”.
Yesterday, former Tory minister Lord Norman Tebbit drew jeers in the Lords after criticising peers for being more concerned about looking after “foreigners” than British people.
“If we are to be concerned about anyone’s rights after Brexit, to live anywhere on this continent of Europe, it should be our concern for the rights of British people to live freely and peacefully in those other parts of Europe,” said Tebbit, who earned the nickname the ‘Chingford skinhead’ in the 1980s when in Margaret Thatcher’s Government.
“Somehow or the other we seem to be thinking of nothing but the rights of foreigners.”
This clearly struck a chord with one audience member. As ex-Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell made the case for guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens in law, it was too much for the man in the maroon jacket.
“You want to listen to Mr Tebbit,” he said twice. “What did he say?”
Campbell: “He called them foreigners.”
Audience member: “What’s wrong with that?”
He got booed. It’s the compassion and empathy that gets you.
“These are people who have made their lives in the United Kingdom,” came Campbell’s reply. “They are married to citizens of the United Kingdom. They’ve got children who are citizens of the United Kingdom.”
To which the audience member replied: “The point is this ... that Mr Tebbit said you are all arguing about this that and the other ... because the will of the people have made this choice. It wasn’t Mrs May who has had all this nonsense thrown at her. We have voted to get out of the EU.”
When challenged by the Lib Dem, he replied: “You are protecting people who are not British.”
Also appearing on the show, presented by David Dimbleby, were Cabinet minister Liz Truss, Labour frontbencher Dawn Butler, Bombay Bicycle Club guitarist Jamie MacColl and columnist Peter Hitchens.