The House of Lords has approved an amendment to the Brexit Bill which guarantees the rights of EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit.
MPs previously passed the law without any amendments, after accepting assurances that protecting the rights of EU nationals would be a priority for ministers. However, peers have urged them to think again.
More than three million people from other countries in the European Union currently live in Britain, so any Brexit deal will have a big impact on their lives.
What have people been saying?
The reaction has been mixed. Prime Minister Theresa May is sticking with plans to pass the bill on March 15, and remains confident the changes will be voted down in the House of Commons. Campaigners, on the other hand, are now pushing for backbench Tory MPs to defy the Government and vote according to their morals. Lady Meacher, a crossbench peer, told BBC Radio 4:
I believe it can be won in the Commons on the basis of morality and principle. Tories are principled people, generally.
Several politicians have accused the Government of using people as “bargaining chips”. Lord Kerslake, former head of the civil service, said: “However you think about that argument it is using them as bargaining chips.” Harriet Harman MP, chair of the Human Rights Committee echoed his comments:
— Harriet Harman (@HarrietHarman) March 1, 2017
Labour is supporting the amendment as a party, with Jeremy Corbyn urging colleagues to back it at a vote.
Great news. The government must now do the decent thing and guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK https://t.co/HWJUfxfqRl
— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) March 1, 2017
However, the amendment has reignited a debate about the House of Lords. As they are unelected, many have questioned if they should be interfering with Government policy.
The UK voted to leave behind the unelected leaders of the EU. Beyond parody if the unelected House of Lords could hold up Brexit…
— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) February 27, 2017
So, what next?
For any bill to pass and become law, it must be agreed upon by both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill, which will officially tell the EU we are leaving, had already been agreed by MPs. Now the House of Lords have made changes, it will be sent back to the House of Commons where they will vote on the changes.
Want to know more about this? Read up on:
- Read this news story on how the Government has a ‘moral obligation’ to secure the rights of EU citizens
- Take a look at a piece on the Human Rights Committee warning EU nationals are not bargaining chips
- Understand the Supreme Court ruling on a Brexit Bill in plain English