The English Gamble: Brexit

By- Shivangi Tewari

Britain’s upper house of parliament has voted to amend and thereby delay a bill empowering Prime Minister Theresa May to begin negotiations for the UK’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit.

The change requires the Government to publish proposals on how to protect EU citizens currently living in Britain — including their residency rights — within three months of triggering the Brexit process as defined by Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon treaty.

Theresa May has defiantly insisted her timetable for triggering Brexit will not be blown off course despite suffering her first Parliamentary defeat over the Article 50 bill.

The House of Lords voted to amend the Bill to force the Government to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. Seven Tory peers – including the former pensions minister Baroness Altmann – backed the amendment.

But the Prime Minister is confident the amendment will be rejected by the Commons later this month, and Downing Street insisted the timetable for Brexit “remains unchanged”.
However her plan to begin negotiations by the end of March remains on track, and Government sources said Ms May would fight to overturn the defeat when the changes were presented to the Lower House of Parliament, where her party has a majority.

The House of Lords voted 358 to 256 to make an amendment to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, the legislation that will give Ms May power to trigger the legal process of leaving the EU.

The change requires the Government to publish proposals on how to protect EU citizens currently living in Britain — including their residency rights — within three months of triggering the Brexit process as defined by Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon treaty.

Wednesday’s defeat was orchestrated by the opposition Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats — Ms May’s Conservative Party does not have a majority in the upper chamber.

“Labour believe that EU nationals should not be used as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations,” said the party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer.

“There is a growing consensus that this must be resolved before Article 50 is triggered, and the Prime Minister is now increasingly isolated.”
While Ms May has said she wants to guarantee EU citizens’ rights, she has not been prepared to do so until other member states agreed a reciprocal deal.
“We are disappointed the Lords have chosen to amend a bill that the Commons [Lower House] passed without amendment,” a spokeswoman for the Brexit department said in a statement.

“Our position on EU nationals has repeatedly been made clear. We want to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain, and the rights of British nationals living in other member states, as early as we can.”

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