European Union Citizenship

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 7th March 2018.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:44 pm, 7th March 2018

The hon. Lady raises a good point. She touched on some of the history in her speech and I was very interested in her historical references. There are long-standing commitments that the UK has made to the citizens of all of Ireland, and we built on those in the Belfast Good Friday agreement. I shall return to them towards the end of my speech. We have to recognise that those provisions were brought about by unique circumstances that date back long before our membership of the EU.

The Government have shown that we have listened to calls to provide certainty to EU citizens in the UK, by ensuring that citizens will be able to rely directly on the rights enshrined in the withdrawal agreement through the withdrawal agreement and implementation Bill, which will be introduced to Parliament after the withdrawal agreement has been finalised. As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration mentioned, we have listened to feedback from communities throughout the UK on the process of acquiring settled status. We have been clear that the new application scheme will be digital, streamlined and user-friendly. We are consulting regularly with EU citizens’ user groups and employers as we design the system.

On the point made by the hon. Member for North East Fife, we will make sure that those who undertake overseas postings, including military service in our armed forces, will not be disadvantaged.