Government loses votes on EU Withdrawal Bill in the Lords
The government’s EU Withdrawal Bill has been held up after losing three votes in the House of Lords.
The first amendment in the Lords, which passed by a 270 to 229 majority, would give EU citizens the automatic right to stay in the UK, rather than having to apply to the Home Office. It also guaranteed the receipt of physical documentation as evidence of their settled status.
Peers also backed calls to remove ministerial power to select which EU Court of Justice rulings can be disregarded by UK courts, and voted in favour of protecting the independence of the courts concerning EU case law after Brexit.
The government will seek to reverse the amendments when the Withdrawal Bill goes back to the House of Commons, and is likely to succeed given its strong majority.
The bill had passed through the Commons earlier in January without any alterations.
Over 2.7 million people have applied to the Home Office for settled status, and Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oates said that granting EU citizens the right to remain by default plus documentation confirming their status could avoid a “plethora of problems”, particularly after the damage caused by the Windrush scandal.
Currently, EU nationals have until the end of June 2021 to apply for the right to remain.
Lord Oates said: "This amendment simply seeks to uphold the promise repeatedly made by Boris Johnson that the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK would be automatically guaranteed.
"It would remove the risk that those who failed to meet the cut-off deadline would be automatically criminalised and subject to deportation.”
The cabinet has reassured that EU citizens will not automatically face deportation if they fail to apply for settled status before the cut-off point.