Lords defeat government over rights of EU citizens in UK

Theresa May has suffered a heavy defeat in the House of Lords after peers voted by 358 votes to 256 in favour of an amendment calling on the government to secure the rights of EU citizens in the UK.

A number of Conservatives including the former cabinet minister Douglas Hogg lined up with Labour, Lib Dems and crossbench peers to demand formal reassurance to more than 3 million Europeans already resident in Britain.

The Lords did not go as far as calling for immediate, unilateral action but said ministers should be made to set out proposals about how they would protect citizens and their families within three months of article 50 being triggered.

The decision forces the government’s Brexit bill into a process of ping-pong between the Houses of Commons and Lords, delaying its passage into law by at least one week until 14 March.

Conservative MPs will now face intense lobbying over the issue as campaigners try to persuade them to inflict an unlikely further defeat in the House of Commons.

Labour’s Brexit spokeswoman in the Lords, Lady Hayter, opened up the debate, claiming the government had the power to act now over the issue, saying: “In 1985, my noble friend Lord Kinnock had to say to his own party: ‘You can’t play politics with people’s jobs.’

“I now want to say to the government: you can’t do negotiations with people’s futures.”

She was backed by a number of high-profile peers including the previous Lib Dem leader, Lord Campbell, the former head of the civil service, Lord Kerslake and the former lord chief justice, Lord Woolf.

Viscount Hailsham (Douglas Hogg) was the most high profile Conservative to back the amendment, laid down by the Labour frontbench but formally backed by Tories, Lib Dems and crossbenchers.

More details soon…

Since you’re here …

… we’ve got a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever, but far fewer are paying for it. Advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike some other news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism open to all. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.

Comments are closed.