Article 50 Notification Bill – Lords Committee Stage

Mr Toad & The Wicked Witch (Continued)

trumpvstoadThe Spectator has a splendid piece by Alexander Chancellor on Donald Trump (aka Mr Toad).  It is very well worth reading:  “Donald the Elephant’s days are numbered – His popularity is already waning. It can’t be long before Donald Trumpety-Trump goes the way of Nellie“.

ww-westminsterAs the days go by, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand why Teresa May (aka The Wicked Witch of Westminster) offered him a State Visit so early on in his presidency.

Perhaps she is an admirer of Mr Toad’s approach to immigration matters.  After all, Mr Toad’s policies on Mexicans and Muslims are have not unlike her own policy approach to EU (and Commonwealth) nationals wishing to live in the UK.  

Mrs May’s Brexit Approach

The Torygraph Telegraph has this: “Theresa May poised to announce end of free movement for new EU migrants next month“:-

(a) “The Prime Minister is expected to say that EU citizens who travel to Britain after she triggers Article 50 will no longer have the automatic right to stay in the UK permanently. They will instead be subject to migration curbs after Britain leaves the European Union, which could include a new visa regime and restricted access to benefits.

(b) “Mrs May is expected to say that EU migrants who arrived in the UK before the ‘cut-off date’ will have their rights protected as long as British citizens living elsewhere in Europe are granted the same assurance.”

However, the debate in the House of Lords on the Brexit Article 50 Notification bill resumes today and the Guardian has this: “Article 50: Labour peers confident government will make concessions – Labour peer says there is 50% chance they will vote on Wednesday on amendment to secure rights of EU citizens living in UK“.

Among the likely Conservative Rebels will be Lord Heseltine  whose position was reported yesterday: “Tory peer Michael Heseltine to rebel on Brexit bill – Former minister says he will back efforts to ensure parliament has meaningful say on government’s negotiated deal“.

It is arguable that both EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU at the operative date of Brexit will have acquired rights pursuant to the provisions of the 1969 Vienna Convention which provides that the termination of a treaty “does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination”.  But  see this rather negative opinion published in May 2016 issue of the New Law Journal: “Brexit brainstorming: immigration analysis – How will UK-based EU citizens fare in the event of a full Brexit? Kate Beaumont gets an expert opinion from Tim Eicke QC

Fortunately Members of the House of Lords have tabled amendments to the Government’s Notification of Withdrawal Bill which will, if passed and accepted by the Commons, improve matters – see:  European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – Revised Marshalled List of Amendments to be moved in Committee of the Whole House“.

Proposed Amendments 9A, 19, 25, 26, 37, 38, 40, 41, and 42 are all related and are likely to be result in a single new clause to the bill putting the position beyond doubt.


Of course, Mrs May is seeking to have the bill pass through the Upper House without amendment.  The real reason (as opposed to the purported reason of needing to protect the rights of UK nationals in EU countries) is not too difficult to discern.

The Wicked Witch  wishes to ensure that the date after which EU nationals in the UK  will not acquire treaty rights will be the date of the Article 50 notification rather than the date on which UK withdrawal becomes effective (about 2 years after the Article 50 notification).

In other words, she wants any new EU nationals who arrive  after the Brexit Article 50 notification date to be on risk of deportation once the UK leaves the EU.

The Independent puts it this way: “Theresa May to end EU citizens’ rights to live in UK days after fear ‘half of Romania and Bulgaria’ will come – Government’s plan could be a breach of its EU treaty obligations“.

Note this:  “It is unclear if the Government’s plan would be a breach of the EU treaties that guarantee freedom of movement.   A Government source told the Telegraph: “We have had some suggestion that the European Commission might attempt to force us to protect everyone who arrives up to the moment of departure.  We could end up with half of Romania and Bulgaria coming here if we wait that long.

Conservative Party Conference - Day Three
The Wicked Witch’s shoes when she was Home Secretary – Yuk

Yesterday, the Financial Times had a good article showing how Mrs May has stuffed her Downing Street staff with people who were around her in the Home Office:  “Theresa May reshapes administration in Home Office mould – Prime minister has imported key personnel, and style, from her previous role“.

It is perhaps worth remembering that the Wicked Witch of Westminster was fond of leopard pattern shoes when she was Home Secretary – and leopards do not change their spots.

The  “try-on” of fudging the date when EU  Treaty obligations will cease to apply in the hope of discouraging some would-be immigrants is a good example of classic Home Office nasty tactics regularly criticised in the Courts.  See this briefing by the barrister Colin Yeo on the Free Movement web site which exposes some other current try-ons: “Briefing: the legal status of EU citizens in the UK“.

The Article 50 Notification Bill

The bill is now in its Committee stage in the House of Lords.  As is quite usual in the Lords the expertise and erudition of their Lordships is a joy to hear.  It remains to be seen how many of the amendment to the bill which have been tabled will be passed.












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