On Thursday 16 December I asked the government to enshrine in legislation the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens living in the EU. The night before, the government were defeated on their plans to push through the European Withdrawal Bill without giving Parliament a meaningful vote on any deal that is reached with the EU. Labour supported Dominic Grieve’s amendment to the legislation which means that the government would need approval from Parliament on the final terms of any withdrawal agreement.
This was an important victory, but the challenge of scrutinising the government’s agenda for Brexit goes on.
Verbal assurances from David Davis and the government have proven to be less than reliable over the course of the Brexit negotiations. Our Bristolians who came here from the EU, and those who currently live in EU countries deserve certainty. The government could put their half of the commitment into one of the EU bills but they are choosing not to – I will keep campaigning for the certainty all Bristolians need and deserve.
Unfortunately, the 3 million EU citizens living in this country and UK citizens living in the EU do not feel that certainty, because of the words “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. Could the government not commit now to putting an amendment down on the face of any of the forthcoming EU bills to give that certainty?
Robin Walker (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
Well I think the honourable lady will recognise that certainty in a reciprocal deal has to be delivered through the withdrawal agreement. But we’ve been very clear from the start of this process that we want to protect the rights of citizens, and to make sure that they can continue to live their lives as before. And that’s a commitment on which we delivered through the joint resolution last week.
You can watch the exchange here: