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Lib Dem peers defeat Conservatives in vote to protect EU citizens’ rights

January 21, 2020 12:42 PM
By Mark Pack Author, 101 Ways To Win An Election

Lords logoA party press release brings the news of a welcome vote in the House of Lords:

The Liberal Democrats defeated the Government on a vote in the House of Lords to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.

The Lords passed an amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, moved by Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates, by 270 votes to 229. It would give EU citizens in the UK 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.

Following the vote, mover of the motion and Liberal Democrat Peer Jonny Oates said:

"This amendment simply seeks to uphold the promise repeatedly made by Boris Johnson that the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK would be automatically guaranteed.

"It would remove the risk that those who failed to meet the cut off deadline would be automatically criminalised and subject to deportation.

"It was very disappointing to see the Conservatives vote against protecting the rights of millions of people who contribute so much to our society, our economy and our communities.

"Liberal Democrats will always champion the rights of EU citizens in the UK and hold the Conservative Government to account for the promises they've made."

Full text of the amendment:

Leave out Clause 7 and insert the following new Clause-

"Rights related to residence
(1) The Secretary of State must by regulations make provision implementing-
(a) Article 18(4) of the withdrawal agreement (right of eligible citizens to receive a residence document),
(b) Article 17(4) of the EEA EFTA separation agreement (right of eligible citizens to receive a residence document), and
(c) Article 16(4) of the Swiss citizens' rights agreement (right of eligible citizens to receive a residence document),
including making provision for a physical document providing proof of residence.
(2) Subsection (1) applies in the same way to-
(a) persons within the personal scope of the withdrawal agreement having the right to reside in the United Kingdom, and
(b) persons to whom the provisions in paragraph (a) do not apply but who are eligible for-
(i) indefinite leave to enter or remain, or
(ii) limited leave to enter or remain,
by virtue of residence scheme immigration rules (see section 17)."

The Guardian explains what happens next:

Ministers are likely to overturn the defeat when the bill returns to the Commons on Wednesday. If the defeat is reversed, peers will then have to decide whether to accept that, when the bill goes back to the Lords during "ping pong", or whether to try again to pass the 'physical document' amendments. Peers have the power to ask the Commons to 'think again', but they almost always back down if the Commons insists on its version of the bill.