House of Lords Defeats Brexit – What Does This Mean For EU Nationals?
The House of Lords has issued the UK government an embarrassing defeat by insisting that the rights of EU nationals living in the UK be confirmed in the Brexit Bill.
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Peers backed a Labour-led move to guarantee the rights of EU nationals already living in the UK by a majority of 102, despite stern warnings not to amend the bill. According to the Independent, last month militant EU-sceptic Conservative MPs even threatened the Lords with extinction if it tried to block Brexit in any way. This was draconian threat was quickly dropped, today Downing Street praised the upper chamber for a, “healthy and vigorous debate”
Does this mean the Bill will not be passed?
No, the House of Lords has not voted down the bill in its entirety. It has, however, asked for an amendment to be added to protect the rights of the three million or so EEA and EU nationals residing in the UK.
Will the government add the amendment?
Again, all signs point to no being the answer. Theresa May insists that the simple Bill tabled should be receive its assent without any amendments.
What happens next?
The Bill will be returned to the House of Commons who are likely to reject the amendment proposed by the Lords. The government has made clear that it will not guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK until the rest of the 27 EU member states solidify the rights of UK citizens living in the bloc.
During the debate in the House of Lords, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Lawson expressed the view that that there was no chance of Parliament approving the expulsion of EU citizens legally resident here, “so there is no danger whatever to EU citizens resident in the UK”.
When will Article 50 be triggered?
Although Theresa May has stated that Article 50 will be triggered in March, the exact date is not known. The Financial Times has reported that Article 50 is unlikely to be triggered mid-month as the Dutch elections are being held on the 15th March and there is real concern that populist politician Geert Wilders will use the start of the Brexit process to bolster his own anti-EU campaign. The EU has also made clear that triggering Brexit on or around the 25th of the month which celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome will be seen as a hostile move.
Therefore, the best guess for when Brexit will officially begin is at the very end of March.
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