Brexit: How the Supreme Court ruling offers hope for EU nationals

Historic judgement paves way for opposition parties to table amendments to any proposed bill

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Tuesday 24 January 2017 19:02
A "Remain" supporter, her face painted to resemble the EU flag, protests in London on July 2
A "Remain" supporter, her face painted to resemble the EU flag, protests in London on July 2

Campaigners fighting for the right of EU nationals to remain in the UK after Brexit said they had been offered their first glimmer of hope after the Supreme Court ruling.

The historic judgement found that Theresa May must secure approval from parliament before triggering Article 50 in order to withdraw Britain from the bloc of 28 nations.

Nicolas Hatton, founder of the3million - a group of French people fighting to preserve their right to remain in Britain - said Article 50 was the “first battle” and now was the perfect time to rally behind the next fight.

“We would like to see the Conservatives move on this issue and unilaterally grant our rights," he told The Independent. "This is not something that was part of the debate during the referendum and there is no need to bring EU citizens into the argument.

Brexit ruling: Government to introduce legislation within days

“So now is the perfect time to write to your MP. Article 50 was the first battle and now we are moving onto the next - securing the rights of EU nationals in the UK."

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the Government will introduce a Bill to begin the legal process "within days".

However, Labour and the SNP have vowed to table amendments to any legislation brought forward and the Liberal Democrats have suggested they will block legislation unless a vote on the final deal is given to the British people.

Campaigners are now hopeful that increased public pressure on opposition parties to include the rights of EU nationals in tabled amendments will help to secure their status after Brexit.

Labour’s shadow Brexit minister Matthew Pennycook MP said one of five amendments to be tabled by the party, will be to guarantee the legal status of EU citizens in the UK before the start of negotiations.

“The judgement puts us in a better place because now we know there will be a vote in Parliament and that will be one last opportunity to grant our rights,” Mr Hatton told The Independent.

Matt Carr, organiser of 1 Day Without Us, a national day of action to celebrate migrant contributions to the UK, also insisted that the ruling had acted as the “galvanising factor” in encouraging all-important collaboration.

“The rights of EU nationals is something everybody has been arguing for, that should be an absolute red line for the opposition to ensure those rights are guaranteed before this process goes any further,” he told The Independent.

“Any amendments like this can only help. Now would be a perfect time for people who believe in securing the rights of EU nationals to write to their MP and make that happen.”

On 20 February, the3million and New Europeans are holding a mass lobby in Parliament to call on MPs to guarantee the rights of residence for EU nationals before Article 50 is triggered.

It will coincide with 1 Day Without Us’s National Day of Action as part of the UN World Day of Social Justice.

“The point is EU citizens are suffering, we can't humanely make it last for much longer, it’s not a position anyone would like to be in," Mr Hatton said.

Anyone wishing to pledge their support can find their MP's contact details here and encourage them to pledge their support to the UK's EU nationals.

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