Monday, 20 January 2020
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.”
I disagree with the results of today’s @UKHouseofLords vote. The EU Settlement Scheme grants #EUcitizens with a secure, digital status which can’t be lost, stolen or tampered with. There will be no change to our digital approach. #WithdrawalAgreementBill https://t.co/881LNAjUIf
— Brandon Lewis MP (@BrandonLewis) January 20, 2020
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 Lords are right – as I explained last week to @SteveBarclay. Physical proof of status is essential. The promise was made that they will get the possibility to print the document. https://t.co/3X3bzDwdkN
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) January 20, 2020
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.
The Brussels Times