MPs have rejected an amendment by the House of Lords to guarantee the rights of EU nationals before the Brexit negotiations begin.
It came as MPs were asked to overturn two amendments made by peers in the upper legislative chamber to the Government’s EU Notification of Withdrawal Bill, which provides Theresa May with the power to invoke Article 50 – a short, five paragraph notice letter which, once received by the EU, will allow negotiations to commence.
The House of Lords amendment aimed to force the Government to publish proposals for guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals before Article 50 was invoked.
The amendment was defeated by 335-287 votes – a majority of 48.
Speaking in the Commons before the vote Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, said protecting the rights of EU nationals was a matter of principle and that bargaining tactics – using the EU citizens in Britain to obtain rights for UK nationals in the EU – should be avoided.
But the Brexit Secretary David Davis predicts the UK will reach a swift agreement with the EU countries over the one million UK nationals living in member states and the 3.2 million EU citizens living in Britain.
Nick Clegg, the former Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister, spoke before the amendment was defeated and slammed the Government over the failure to guarantee the rights of EU citizens.
He said a ‘mountainous volume of red tape’ would be created if the Government tried to separate the three million EU citizens already living in Britain from the millions who may, after a certain cut-off date, want to live, study and work in Britain in the future.
Clegg reminded Brexit Secretary David Davis of their work together in opposing ID cards 12 years ago, predicting the Government will have to introduce something similar to the onerous paper trail behind ID cards.
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