Article 50 author hits out at 'total betrayal' of EU nationals in UK

PUBLISHED: 15:07 07 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:31 07 March 2018

Article 50 author Lord Kerr of Kinlochard

$image.copyright

The government has been accused of a "total betrayal" of EU nationals living in Britain who believed their future status had been secured post-Brexit.

Former ambassador Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, who wrote Article 50 which triggered the formal withdrawal process, warned that the exodus of essential workers would only speed up.

The independent crossbencher made his scathing criticism of the Conservative administration after the government said the divorce deal reached before Christmas, which opened the way for Brexit talks to progress to the next stage, only represented a "consensus" and was not a legally binding agreement.

As well as citizens' rights, the so-called joint report covered the Irish border issue and the UK's £39bn exit bill.

The latest spat came as peers continued to debate more than 300 amendments during the marathon committee stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords.

Tory frontbencher Lord Keen of Elie told peers the UK government had "achieved consensus" with the EU in a number of important areas.

He said: "We have a joint report, we have therefore consensus and we are moving onto the negotiation overall of what will ultimately be an international treaty.

"We have not yet signed a binding agreement in law."

Pressed by Labour former Cabinet minister and New European columnist Lord [Andrew] Adonis over whether the government might "resile" from any of the commitments made, Lord Keen said: "I don't imagine that the government would wish to do anything of the sort."

But on the issue of EU nationals, Lord Kerr said: "What we haven't heard is any indication that anybody is aware of the reality of the outside world that these people are choosing to go home.

"People we need are going because the government is not giving them an assurance."

He added: "These people believe that we agreed something. They believed there was an agreement.

"And what we are seeing now in this intellectually fascinating legal debate is a total betrayal of their belief that we had agreed something and the pace of people moving away from this country who we need will speed up if we don't get this right."

Speaking earlier, Lord Adonis questioned why Parliament had not already moved to give legal effect to the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, given the assurances made by the prime minister.

He said: "The reason why that hasn't happened is precisely because the government does want to use EU citizens as bargaining chips.

"Saying that they don't when all the evidence is that they do I'm afraid doesn't cut the mustard at all."

He Adonis added: "It's a terrible face this country is presenting to the world.

"As this whole Brexit project starts to disintegrate nothing is undermining its moral foundations more than our inability... to give firm legal undertakings in respect of people who are resident in this country and came here in good faith."

Opposition spokesman Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town said the legislation provided the opportunity to enshrine the rights of EU nationals into law.

She said: "I think we owe them a higher degree of comfort than they currently have.

"The future of these citizens is basically in our hands."

Tory peer Lord Cormack was deeply critical over the government's refusal to immediately guarantee the rights of EU citizens.

He said: "I just think it is indicative of the mess in which we have got ourselves.

"I bitterly resent it."

Labour's Baroness Prosser, former president of the TUC, warned that the UK's global reputation would go "down the Swannee" if citizens' rights were not safeguarded.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Ludford argued EU citizens in the UK had been left in a state of "anxiety and limbo".

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £13

Support The New European's vital role as a voice for the 48%

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

  • Become a friend of The New European for a contribution of £48. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish)
  • Become a partner of The New European for a contribution of £240. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook
  • Become a patron of The New European for a contribution of £480. You will qualify for a mention in our newspaper (should you wish) and receive a New European Branded Pen and Notebook and an A3 print of The New European front cover of your choice, signed by Editor Matt Kelly

By proceeding, you agree to the New Europeans supporters club Terms & Conditions which can be found here.



Supporter Options

Mention Me in The New European



If Yes, Name to appear in The New European



Latest Articles

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Grassroots anti-Brexit campaigners are increasing the pressure on politicians ahead of a series of important votes this year. Here is a list of the events organised across Britain in the coming weeks and months.

Trending

Newsletter Sign Up

The New European weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy