I campaigned against the UK leaving the EU but I now will respect the outcome of the referendum and work towards securing the best exit deal for our country. However, the result of the referendum has raised uncertainty over the future rights of EU nationals currently living and working in the UK.
The Government has stated that securing the status of EU nationals already in the UK is one if its “early priorities” for the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. However, I have long been of the view that EU nationals in the UK should not be used as part of the negotiation process and that the Government should immediately put an end to unnecessary uncertainty by unilaterally guaranteeing their legal status.
I believe this is the right thing to do as well as being clearly in the UK’s interest to preserve the skills and talent of those already contributing so much to our economy. I have supported this position at every opportunity in the House of Commons since the referendum. It is therefore a welcome and important step that the House of Lords recently passed an amendment to secure these rights as part of its consideration of the Government’s European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which will allow the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50.
I intend to support this simple but effective amendment when the Bill returns to the House of Commons shortly. I believe there is a growing consensus that this issue must be resolved before Article 50 is triggered.
Many constituents have asked for my specific advice about their own future. It is impossible to have clarity until the government has agreed a position with the rest of the EU member states. My sense of things is that a deal will be struck and those EU nationals in the UK before a certain cut off point will be allowed to stay, but each person will have to make their own decision about the likely outcome and when this might finally be decided.
I regret that the government has lacked the moral courage to settle this already and I will continue to make the case in parliament.