Parliamentary oversight of negotiations

Part of Informal European Council – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 6th February 2017.

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Photo of Richard Fuller Richard Fuller Conservative, Bedford 7:45 pm, 6th February 2017

The hon. Gentleman would not get a top mark in negotiation analysis at Harvard Business School. The last word the British public want to hear when it comes to this Bill is “delay.” Most people think we should get on with it, if they do not think we have done it already.

It is important for the Government to understand that messaging is important. There is uncertainty, and people feel that perhaps they do not have the right to remain here, so the Government must continue their progress in signalling to people not only that we welcome them here but that our intent is that everyone in the United Kingdom as a legal EU resident will be able to stay. We must not avoid, or fail to pursue, communicating that message.

Equally, the Government must avoid measures that give the optics to British citizens in other EU countries that they have been abandoned. One of the worst things of stating this in legislation is not that it is necessarily a bad thing but that the optics for British citizens in other countries would change dramatically. They would say, “Why have we not been protected?” They would feel even more vulnerable because of the inaction of EU Governments if the UK Government were, by statute, to have to take this measure.

I support the Government on this amendment, and I call on them to continue their progress on the issue to end uncertainty. Ending uncertainty is not just about the rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK; it is about wanting people in the European Union to come to the UK. The progressive message of this Government should not just end with the issues contained in the amendment. We should send a positive message that we will continue to welcome people from the European Union after we leave.