UPDATE 23/06/2017: British Prime Minister Theresa May has made what she calls a “fair and serious offer” on EU citizens’ rights. The offer would confer on EU citizens who arrived in the UK before Article 50 was triggered the same rights to work, healthcare and other services as British citizens. According to the offer, British citizens living in the EU would receive the reciprocal status.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the offer a “good start”. However, the British government does not want to give the European Court of Justice jurisdiction over the upholding the rights of EU citizens in Britain. The3million organisation, representing EU citizens living in Britain, has said the offer “falls short of our expectations and is unacceptable in its current form”.
ORIGINAL 02/03/2017: The road to Brexit is proving bumpier than expected. First the government lost its supreme court battle on whether Parliament should be given a say before Article 50 can be triggered, and now Theresa May has suffered a “humiliating defeat” in the House of Lords over the status of EU nationals after Brexit.
Peers from all parties (including Prime Minister May’s own Conservative party) joined forces to vote for an amendment to the bill triggering Article 50. The amendment would ensure EU citizens living in Britain retain all the rights to live and work in the UK that they currently enjoy, regardless of how the Brexit negotiations go. Many peers feel it would be morally wrong to use EU nationals as a “bargaining chip” in the Brexit negotiations.
The EU bill now returns to the House of Commons, which will likely (barring a rebellion by Tory MPs) vote down the amendment on 13-14 March. Prime Minister May has said she wants to trigger Article 50 before the “end of March”, but the defeat in the House of Lords means she will now have to wait until 15 March at the earliest… the Ides of March (which seems an inauspicious date to launch such a venture).
What should be the status of EU nationals in Britain after Brexit? Is it wrong to use EU nationals as a “bargaining chip” in the Brexit negotiations? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!