First, may I put on record my thanks to Hywel Williams for the considered way in which he opened the debate? I also wish him a speedy recovery from the heavy cold he has been suffering from, and congratulate him on getting to the end of his speech.
I listened carefully to what the Minister said, but I am afraid that the weakness at the heart of the Government’s position—whether on EU citizenship in the future, the rights of EU citizens in this country, or indeed immigration more generally—is the failure of the Government to bring proposed legislation before this House. I start with the immigration Bill which was originally scheduled to be published last summer. The Home Secretary said last October to the House and the Home Affairs Committee that there would be an immigration White Paper by the end of last year and a Bill early this year. The then immigration Minister—not the right hon. Lady, but her predecessor Brandon Lewis—told the Committee in November that a White Paper would be produced soon. The right hon. Lady told this House on
“when the time is right”.—[Official Report,
Vol. 635, c. 1211.]
She then said on
Words are very important, not just the various contorted phrases the Government have used to justify their inaction, but also remarks made about the status of our existing EU citizens, and the reported comments of the International Trade Secretary that the
“uncertain status of EU nationals living in the UK is ‘one of our main cards’
in the Brexit negotiations.”
That is a matter of great regret.