EU citizens’ rights concerns stagger Johnson’s Brexit plan
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    EU citizens’ rights concerns stagger Johnson’s Brexit plan

    © Belga
    Credit: Belga
    © Belga

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered his first parliamentary defeat since the December elections on Monday, after the Lords rebuffed his Brexit plan for European citizens’ rights after leaving the EU.

    Peers voted 270 to 229 to pass a cross-party amendment to the European Union Withdrawal Bill, which is designed to allow EU citizens resident in the UK to have physical proof of their right to stay after Brexit on 31 January.

    An estimated 3.6 million EU citizens living in the UK have to apply for permission to stay in the UK after Brexit, but the amendment would allow them the automatic right to stay, rather than having to apply to the Home Office, and would ensure they can get physical proof of their rights, the Guardian reports.

    In a tweet after the vote, Home Office minister Brandon Lewis expressed his disappointment in the result, arguing that the EU Settlement Scheme is “secure, digital status which can’t be lost, stolen or tampered with.”

    On a visit to London last week, the European Parliament’s Brexit referent Guy Verhofstadt also expressed concern about the lack of physical documents to “guarantee with certainty” people’s status.

    The vote means that the Brexit bill will return to the House of Commons. If MPs reject the change, the bill will go back to the Lords, with the potential to repeat until one side folds.

    The Lords will vote on Tuesday on another controversial amendment to the Brexit Bill, concerning the rights of unaccompanied refugee children to be reunited with their families in the UK.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times