Jeremy Corbyn has repeated his demand that Theresa May unilaterally guarantee the right of EU citizens to remain in the UK following Brexit.
The Labour Party leader told the Commons today it should be done “now” in the name of “human rights, democracy and decency” rather than waiting for the formal negotiations with Brussels to begin or for other European countries to give the same deal to Britons living in the EU.
May said while she wanted to do so at as “early a stage as possible”, some EU member states did not want to discuss the issue until after Article 50 was triggered.
“It is absolutely right that we value the contribution that EU citizens are playing here in the UK, their contribution not our community, our economy, our society and to our public services,” she said.
The prime minister refused to reveal which EU states did not want to discuss the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British nationals living in the EU until the Brexit negotiations began.
May was also pressed on the status of EU citizens by several Tory MPs, including Heidi Allen who told the Commons Donald Trump’s “divisive policies on immigration” were worrying European living in the UK.
The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which will give May the right to trigger Article 50 and take the UK out of the EU, returns to the Commons for three more days of debate today.
It will be a chance for MPs to amend the legislation after last week’s second reading vote on the principle of the Bill.
Labour, SNP and Lib Dem MPs hope to force the government to guarantee that EU citizens living in Britain at the time of the referendum can stay.
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme yesterday that she had people coming to her “surgery in tears”.
“I had a meeting of 200 French nationals, not from my constituency, saying they are extremely concerned about their future. They have fallen in love with this country, they have fallen in love with someone from this country, they are setting up businesses here, they have put their life down here,” she said.
“They’ve got to have their life on hold for a number of years while Theresa May sorts it out.”