MP’s Vote Against EU Nationals’ Right to Live and Work in the UK

MP’s have voted against a motion to allow European mainland migrants to live and work in Britain after Brexit. The SNP had proposed the motion but the House of Commons voted 293 to 250 against it after a thorough debate.

Despite the fact that a vote is not legally binding, the outcome further points at a ‘hard Brexit’ which will restrict the free movement of people into and out of Europe to Britain. The formal breakaway will occur in 2019 after 2 years of negotiations set to begin in March 2017.

The campaign group Open Britain had presented a 27,000 person signature which attempted to gain concessions from PM Theresa May that the rights of EU citizens in Britain, and British citizens in Europe would not be affected.

The motion is as follows:

 “That this House recognises the contribution that nationals from other countries in the EU have made to the UK; and calls on the Government to ensure that all nationals from other countries in the EU who have made the UK their home retain their current rights, including the rights to live and work in the UK, should the UK exit the EU.”

The motion, a proposal put forward for debate in the House of Commons, was moved by Shadow SNP Justice and Home Affairs spokesperson Joanna Cherry. She said the status of EU nationals after the referendum was “still unclear”. “That is simply not good enough,” she said during the debate, adding that “human beings should not be used as bargaining chips in negotiation”. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox previously described EU nationals living in the UK as “cards” in Brexit negotiations.

The debate was widely criticized for not protecting the rights of British workers in Europe. It also covered areas such as the rising hate crime in Britain witnessed after the Brexit vote was cast.

Conservative MP Ken Clarke branded the debate as ‘ludicrous’ and also said the debate was ‘artificial’, stating that no MP’s should be conspiring to remove European nationals from the UK  who are contributing towards society and the economy. Mr Clarkes’ comments come after the NHS has repeatedly stated that without migrant workers the service would collapse.

Responding to the debate on behalf of the Government, immigration minister Robert Goodwill said the Government had “aspirations” to protect the interests of EU citizens in the UK. “They make a vital contribution to important aspects of our economy and public services, not least in the NHS and care sector,” he added.

However, Mr Goodwill said he did not think the motion being discussed went far enough because it did not call for the rights of British citizens living and working in the EU to be protected. “It is impossible for us to support the motion, because that reassurance is not contained in it,” he said. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the EU Robin Walker urged MPs to vote against the motion because it did not recognise that “the UK and the EU would like to maintain a close and friendly relationship”. “The Government are confident that we will work together and that EU and British citizens will be protected through a reciprocal agreement,” he said.

A statement from the Cabinet Office, Home Office, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and UK Visas and Immigration in July said: “When we do leave the EU, we fully expect that the legal status of EU nationals living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in EU member states, will be properly protected. The Government recognises and values the important contributions made by EU and other non-UK citizens who work, study and live in the UK.”


Written By:

Daniel James


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