The future UK residency rights of the estimated three million European Union citizens currently living in Britain is to be debated in Parliament.
The leave campaign in the EU Referendum had previously assured voters that those EU citizens in the UK at the time of a vote for Brexit would be able to remain in the country. But Home Secretary and Tory party leadership contender Theresa May has now refused to guarantee those residency rights once Britain is formally separated from the EU.
The Labour party has called a Commons opposition day debate on the issue after Mrs May said she hoped the rights could be guaranteed but that the residency rights of Britons living in other EU nations would also need to be agreed as part of the negotiations.
Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham said Mrs May’s stance was not good enough and he told The Guardian that people’s lives should not be used as “bargaining chips” in the Brexit discussions.
Former Cabinet Minister, Sir Eric Pickles, who is supporting Mrs May’s leadership bid, is also calling for clarity over EU nationals’ residency rights.
He said: “EU citizens are among our top surgeons, our top consultants, our top anaesthetists. They are among our top engineers and our top architects. These are people who can work anywhere in the world and we need to be very clear that we want them here, as part of our economy.”
The matter will be discussed in the Commons debate this week, and Green party MP Caroline Lucas is also introducing a new Bill to Parliament that aims to guarantee the right to remain for EU citizens. The bill, due to be introduced on July 20, is likely to include the infrastructure for people to obtain indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they were here at the time of the Brexit vote.