Former Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who supported “no change” for EU citizens after Brexit, has supported the Tory’s immigration bill in the House of Lords.
The newly-elevated peer, a former leader of the Vote Leave campaign, had previously signed a statement saying: “There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present”.
After the EU referendum the politician said she was helping to carry out a research project to ensure that the UK protects EU citizens’ rights after Brexit. She said she had expected EU citizens to share the same rights as UK nationals abroad.
“There is wide agreement, among the public, politicians and business, that EU citizens are welcome here and that the government should make clear they can stay … This is the right thing to do and what the Leave campaign promised all along,” she told the BBC.
But the German-born Leaver has disappointed – although not surprised – campaigners by using one of his first appearances in the Lords to vote with the government on immigration.
Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston voted for Priti Patel’s bill – and also against four amendments, which included the government providing physical proof to EU citizens of their settled status in the UK.
Despite her support for the government, the Lords inflicted a series of defeats.
Professor Tanja Bueltmann tweeted: “In 2016, Gisela Stuart, then Chair of Vote Leave, promised EU citizens that nothing would change. She even signed a pledge and chaired a group that urged protecting EU citizens. As an MP, she voted against that. Tonight, now a Peer, she did it again. Shameful is too weak a word.
“Especially so because Stuart voted against every single amendment – so that includes voting against allowing British citizens currently in another EU country to return to live in the UK with their EU family members. To them too she had made the promise that nothing would change.”
Slough for Europe wrote: “The crazy thing is, none of this is a mandatory part of leaving the EU. It wasn’t what people were promised during the referendum campaign. Voting against it doesn’t mean they are voting against Brexit.”
Dr Alexandra Bulat noted: “Unsurprisingly, but disappointingly, the Lady who promised nothing will change for EU citizens in Vote Leave’s statement dated 1 June 2016 just voted against the Lords’ amendment for physical proof of settled status for EU citizens.”
Alison Killing added: “Awful, but not surprising. So pleased the amendment to give physical proof of status went through though!”