EU geared up for negotiations showdown after “disappointing” vote that fails to give security to EU nationals in Scotland and UK
THE EU COMMISSION has expressed its grave concerns about the status of EU nationals in the UK after MPs voted down an amendment to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK.
Described as “disappointing” the vote saw 332 MPs including Scotland’s only Tory MP David Mundell vote against guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals as an amendment.
The commission’s comment follows the passage of the third reading of the Brexit Bill last night (Wednesday 8 February) which passed with the support of 494 to 122 votes, with 60 Labour MPs and all SNP MPs voting against the legislation, which will empower Prime Minister Theresa May triggering of Article 50.
“We can not be explicit in our comment. However, it is a disappointing thing to have happened. It’s not constructive.” EU Commission
Speaking to CommonSpace, a spokesperson from the Commission’s press service in Strasbourg said: “Well our policy right now is that this is strictly an internal matter. We can not be explicit in our comment. However, it is a disappointing thing to have happened. It’s not constructive.”
A representative of the commission’s branch in Edinburgh at Europe House told commonSpace: “We will have to wait until Article 50 is actually triggered to comment in full. That is the line at the moment. But the concern is real.”
The vote, which struck down any assurances of the right of stay for EU nationals, has lead to criticism of the UK Government that it is using the status of EU nationals as a bargaining chip in future negotiations which the remaining 27 EU nations. Tabled by the Liberal Democrats and supported by SNP and Labour MPs the amendment was meant to add protection of EU nationals as a condition of Article 50’s triggering.
May went to Poland last year to arrange a special deal with the Polish Government on behalf of Polish nationals living in the UK. The Polish leader, Beata Szydło, is sympathetic to the UK Governments anti-immigration stance.
“We will have to wait until Article 50 is actually triggered to comment in full. That is the line at the moment. But the concern is real.” EU Commission
In addition to the outcry about the violation of the rights of EU nationals, SNP MPs were appalled at the way they said Scotland’s political voice had been dismissed during the debate and subsequent vote.
A majority in the Commons, during a week of deliberations over the Brexit Bill, has rejected every amendment proposed by Scotland’s MPs, and ignored the vote on Tuesday (7 January) in which the Scottish Parliament made a symbolic vote to reject the legislation.
Stephen Gethins MP, the SNP’s spokesperson for Europe at Westminister, told CommonSpace: “The decision to trigger Article 50 and give the government a blank cheque over our relations with Europe should act as a warning call for us all. We have just handed the Tory Government at Westminster consent to negotiate as it pleases over all of the areas impacted by the EU such as our rights, jobs, and the environment among many other areas.
“Given Westminster’s track record on all of these areas that is a major cause for concern. Just for starters, on the day that they took us out of the EU the government broke its promise to give shelter to unaccompanied child refugees, the most vulnerable victims of the wars in Syria and elsewhere.”
“The decision to trigger Article 50 and give the government a blank cheque over our relations with Europe should act as a warning call for us all.” Stephen Gethins
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon went on social media last night to denounce both the vote and the rejection of the EU nationals amendment by simply tweeting the word “disgraceful”.
Earlier last year, the first minister expressed her government’s commitment to the rights of EU nationals and refugees to reside in Scotland as equal citizens in a formal open letter and by holding an open reception for EU nationals at Bute House.
The Scottish Conservatives have come in for specific criticism over their leader Ruth Davidson’s reneging on her previous support for the EU, the single market and the rights of EU nationals residing in the UK.
When contacted the Scottish Conservative declined to comment on the third Article 50 vote, or the rejection of the EU nationals amendment. The Brexit Bill is now due to appear in the House of Lords where it is expected to pass without difficulty. Leading Tories including the UK Government’s minister for Brexit David Davis has said that peers should do their “patritotic duty” and vote in favour of the bill.
Picture courtesy of Ewan McIntosh
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