Last Thursday in the House of Lords, Jean Coussins who is a crossbench Baroness spoke very clearly about Erasmus+ which is the theme in amendment 38 that 344 Tory and DUP MPs chose to reject on the 8th January, just over a week earlier. It is vital that they read or listen to this speech and call on their party to reverse the rejection of this amendment along with several other amendments including the one relating to the support for unaccompanied children. The Erasmus+ issue relates to a significant number of people who have taken up the opportunity to engage with communities outside of their area and given that we are about to leave the EU, the need to continue to connect with European nations is vital. After all most people who claimed that they wanted to leave the EU denied the idea that they were not wanting to be seen as Europeans, so our engagement in Erasmus seems like a great way of retaining that connection, long after we have left the EU. The following few words provide an explanation of how valuable Erasmus is:
It is also important to correct the misunderstanding that the scope of Erasmus+ is restricted to university students: as the noble Lord, Lord Storey, mentioned, it also covers schools, including primary schools, adult education, the youth sector and vocational training for apprentices and associated staff. Since 2014, the vocational provision has funded around 24,000 UK apprentices, other young learners and staff to participate in accredited mobility placements.
Erasmus+ gives opportunities to young people to work together and make a difference on issues that matter in their daily lives. Activities include running a project in their own community, meetings with decision-makers and volunteering abroad. Benefits include improved access to employment, as well as new experience and skills as active citizens. Youth workers benefit from job attachments, training and other professional development. Erasmus+ has an important role in supporting diversity and inclusion and is especially relevant to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable young people, including those in care, those with disabilities, refugees and migrants.
Although Boris Johnson has chosen not to include the reference to Erasmus in his Departure Bill, in fact even he is in favour of Erasmus so there should be no reason for Tory MPs to oppose amendment 38. As Baroness Coussins stated “As we have heard, the Prime Minister said only yesterday that there was no threat to Erasmus. If that is a genuine commitment, fantastic—there can be no reason why that cannot be irrefutably placed in the Bill. Otherwise, all that we actually know we can be sure of is that Erasmus is secure only until the end of 2020.” So it is vital that all Tory MPs, particularly those in Sussex, Surrey and Kent read this speech and then choose to campaign for the inclusion of amendment 38.