Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:45 pm, 13th March 2017

I am grateful for that intervention, but it is important to focus on the words of the amendment, which asks Ministers to bring forward proposals within three months. That does not tie anybody’s hands or make anybody’s task more difficult. If the issue is resolved within three months—and I hope that it is, for the sake of EU citizens living here and of UK citizens living abroad—the amendment represents no problem. It represents a problem only if the Government do not succeed in an early settlement of the issue.

The Labour party has been pushing the Government for many months to guarantee EU rights. My right hon. Friend Andy Burnham first tabled a Labour motion on the issue back in July 2016, just weeks after the referendum, but the Government have refused to take unilateral action. I remind the House that the International Trade Secretary, who is sitting on the Government Front Bench, said last year that to guarantee those rights to EU citizens

“would be to hand over one of our main cards in the negotiations”.