Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union 5:45 pm, 13th March 2017

Mr Harper argued that we should not support the two amendments because they are justiciable; on that basis, we might as well pack up and go home, because everything that we put in legislation is justiciable.

I rise to support the two amendments, and I draw the House’s attention to the unanimous recommendation of the Select Committee on Exiting the European Union, which I have the privilege of chairing: it said that the Government should now make a unilateral decision to safeguard the rights of EU nationals in the United Kingdom. I say to the Secretary of State that the only argument against doing that, and against the Lords amendment, is that someone might be prepared to put the status of those 3 million EU citizens into play in the negotiations. That raises the question of how exactly that would be done, and to what purpose. It is precisely because the Secretary of State, and indeed the Prime Minister, have been so clear in saying to the House “We intend to ensure those people’s status and rights” that no one in the Chamber believes that the Government would be prepared to put those people’s status into play in the negotiations. If the Government are not prepared to do that, why not do the right thing now, and tell those people that they can stay?