Lords must take their chance to protect EU citizens' rights

Posted by Sam Hawke on 20 February 2017

Today the House of Lords gets to debate the Government’s Brexit Bill, which breezed through the Commons without a single amendment.

Even on issues with cross-party support, like the need to provide EU migrants with certainty over their right to stay in the UK, those who believe rights should be off the negotiating table were defeated.

But there is still hope for the thousands of entrepreneurs, workers, families and partners who’ve made this country their home. Their elected representatives left them in limbo, but the Lords have an opportunity to insist they be granted basic fairness and human rights protections.

Brexit was not about stripping individuals of their rights. Of those who voted to leave, 77 per cent want EU nationals to retain their rights after Brexit, and 84 per cent of the British public as a whole agree that EU citizens should be able to remain in this country.

As the official Vote Leave campaign said, there should be “no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.”

As it works towards Brexit, our Government should lead by example, setting the tone for the withdrawal process by making strong commitments to EU nationals living in the UK. Promises to uphold essential fairness and respect for human rights should be made as a matter of principle.

EU nationals must not be treated as bargaining chips, and their rights cannot be subject to negotiation or made dependent upon the actions of other governments.

In the interests of equality, legal certainty, and the right to respect for private and family life, existing EU law rights and entitlements for all EU nationals, and their families, must be guaranteed.