Parliamentary oversight of negotiations

Part of Informal European Council – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 6th February 2017.

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Photo of David Jones David Jones Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union) 8:30 pm, 6th February 2017

I will not give way any further.

This is less an issue of principle than of timing, with a few EU countries insisting that there can be no negotiation without notification, and that therefore nothing can be settled until article 50 is triggered. We could not be clearer about our determination to resolve this issue at the earliest possible opportunity, ensuring that the status of UK nationals in the EU is similarly protected. Some hon. Members have called for a unilateral guarantee now, but we have a very clear duty to UK citizens living in other EU member states, of whom there are about 1 million, to look after their interests and provide as much certainty as possible for their futures as well. Some hon. Members have suggested that we should, in effect, offer a unilateral guarantee to EU nationals in the UK while at the same time failing to achieve security for our own nationals abroad. That is a course that would carry the risk of a prolonged period of stressful uncertainty for them, which we are not prepared to accept. Only after we have passed this Bill into law can my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister trigger article 50—