‘Wake up!’ Baroness Campbell’s plea to disabled people over EU referendum apathy


A leading peer has told disabled people to “wake up” to the reality that they could lose many of their hard-won rights if the UK votes to leave the European Union (EU) later this month.

In an impassioned plea, Baroness [Jane] Campbell (pictured) begged other disabled people not to abandon the EU, which she said acted as a “double lock” on disability rights.

She told Disability News Service (DNS): “At the moment, our rights are double-locked. If we leave the EU we can kiss goodbye to all the progress we have made on independent living, employment rights and access to information.”

She was speaking after a seminar she chaired in parliament which examined the disability rights case for remaining in the EU.

The seminar was addressed by influential disabled campaigners and “remain” supporters including John Evans, one of the founders of the UK’s independent living movement and a former chair of the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL); the crossbench peer Lord [Colin] Low, a former president of the European Blind Union; and Professor Anna Lawson, who heads the new Disability Law Hub at the University of Leeds.

There was frustration expressed during the seminar that many disabled people had not understood the risks posed by leaving the EU.

Baroness Campbell told DNS that the rights disabled people had secured as a result of Britain’s membership of the EU would not be lost immediately but would gradually “ebb away” if the country voted “leave”.

She said: “The independent living movement for one has worked so hard to bring disabled people together through Europe to fight for our fundamental human rights and we need that [to continue].

“It will not hit us immediately, but over the years, slowly, they will be ebbing away and then we will be on our own, and we know what it is like to be out in the cold, to be segregated from our fellow disabled people.

“Please, please, do not let this happen. Nothing about us without us, and that means in Europe as well as in the UK.”

Baroness Campbell had admitted to the seminar that she had started thinking about the EU referendum only recently, but the more she discovered about the damage that leaving the EU would do to disabled people “the more afraid I become”.

She said that other disabled people around the country had told her they were preoccupied with other campaigns.

But she said: “We are so busy fighting our battles on different fronts that we are not lifting our heads up to see what is going on around us on the bigger stage.”

She said that many disabled people had told her that they would pay attention to the EU issue when their other battles were over, but she told the seminar: “When that’s all over it will be too late.”

  • User Ratings (29 Votes)
  • jeffrey davies

    yet under the eu we seen culling of the stock denial of benefits did the eu scream out nay they watch this lot plow on with their action t4 plans hmmmm jeff3

  • Leon Carter

    What progress on independent living, oh yeah the scrapping of the ILF that enabled them to do so

  • AdamLotunWDA

    I am very much confused by this plea, I have not made up my mind as yet though, but I warned about many of the cuts as early as 2008 and tried to raise these fact with other via petitions and visiting places around the UK, and at every turn I was met with being called a scaremonger and that I was peddling lies and that no Government would ever remove benefits from disabled people that placed them in danger of their lives. However we have seen just that very thing happen, even this week we have seen more news confirmed that 47% of people receiving DLA High Rite Mobility Component are not being awarded the same High Rate Component in the PIP Transition. I also raised the question of people having their wheelchairs and scooters being taken away from them, but we find ourselves in just this situation. I will continue to mull over what my decision will be, though I will probably end up having to make a decision on the days in the polling booth, if I can get into the Polling Station that is! Adam….

  • Asitis

    Too late Lady I and many others have had our benefits cut and not a peep from the E.U.

  • JonB

    John, Have you come across any blogs etc from disabled people saying we should Leave the EU? I’m for staying in but I’m as interested in the Leave argument from any disabled people.

  • Tracy

    where was the double lock from the eu when esa was cut by £30 a week, where was this double lock when thousands have committed suicide after these farce of assessment declared them fit for work, where was this double lock when people won their appeals at court for dwp to challenge that decision to avoid paying the backpay, and where was this double lock for people that were on lifetime support dla yet change over to pip the lose their cars, scooters, wheelchairs and carers, and they still employ unqualified people to decide the fate of sick and disabled people giving zero points when they have reached their quota on numbers of people claiming

  • Chris McCabe

    I can’t find any love for the EU, but a vote for Brexit or an abstention wd be a vote for Murdoch, IDS, Patel, Gove, Bozza, & co to cut pay & benefits, cull more disabled & jobless, & supports the xenophobes who want to deport my mates!

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