Parliamentary Ping Pong
It looks increasingly likely that there may be some parliamentary ping pong as Teresa May seeks to get her Brexit Notification bill through Parliament unamended.
EU Citizens’ Rights
Torygraph Telegraph has this: “Tory Eurosceptics join calls for Theresa May to pledge EU citizens can stay in UK after Brexit“.
The Guardian’s Sunday sister paper, The Observer has this: “Leading Brexiters urge May to guarantee EU citizens right to remain in UK – Pressure mounts on the PM within her own ranks to jettison an ‘unacceptable’ bargaining chip policy” which includes this:-
“The MPs add: “EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU are aware that their fate is subject to the negotiations. They do not want to be used as bargaining chips, and the uncertainty they are having to live with is not acceptable. Notwithstanding the assurance given by the home secretary, we recommend that the UK should now make a unilateral decision to safeguard the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.”
The Financial Times has a similar report: “May urged to guarantee EU nationals’ rights before Brexit talks – Commons committee calls on prime minister not to use foreigners as ‘bargaining chips’“.
The source for all this is the 2nd Report of House of Commons Select Committee for Exiting the European Union which includes some prominent Brexiteers and which is well worth reading. Not only does it call for the unilateral guarantee for EU Citizens in the UK but it is also very critical of the 85 page Home Office form for acquiring permanent residence.
“After their evidence session, the 3million carried out research into what other EU countries require of applicants to qualify for a permanent residence card. The UK form is 85 pages long and has to be completed in hard copy. The next longest is the Danish form at 12 pages. The average of 25 European countries is four pages. The French have a form that can be completed online. Anne-Laure Donskoy noted that “France is the grandfather of bureaucracy. Knowing that the UK has overdone it compared to France is remarkable.” The process in the UK costs £65 while the average across Europe is £28.26.”
The Financial Times runs an article on this: “EU citizens face 85-page ‘nightmare’ Brexit Britain form – Foreigners living in UK left in ‘limbo’ by onerous red tape for residence.”
Wolfgang Münchau writes in the Financial Times: “A primer for Europeans in post-Brexit Britain – The 85-page permanent residency form is a nonsense“.
The fact of the matter is that the Home Office approach to all immigration matters, including the free movement rights of EU Citizens, is the product of Teresa May’s long tenure as Home Secretary and, as one might expect from the Wicked Witch of Westminster, it is designed to be oppressive and to provide reasons (whether valid or invalid) to remove as many migrants from the UK as possible – if need be by harassment and by frightening them into leaving. The Home Office approach is often challenged in the Immigration Tribunals and appellate jurisdictions (sometimes going as far as the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights) and it is common knowledge that one of the Wicked Witch’s list of objectives in taking the UK out of the EU is to end the possibility of the UK Courts referring issues to the European Court of Justice and thereafter to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. In essence her approach is that no person , whether UK citizens, EU Nationals or aliens should have any rights that she finds inconvenient.
The Present Home Secretary
Unfortunately, Mrs May’s successor as Home Secretary is The Rt Hon Amber Rudd PC MP, who has only been in office since 16th July 2016 (see her Wikipedia entry here). One wonders how someone educated at Cheltenham Ladies College and the excellent Queen’s College in London followed by reading history at Edinburgh can, despite her first class education, end up as as the Nasty Party latest Nasty Home Secretary. There can be little doubt that she was chosen to hold the office of Home Secretary because she was considered to be willing to continue the policies of her predecessor.
Ms Rudd quickly blotted her copybook with her speech at the Conservative Party Conference:- see this report in the Guardian: “Amber Rudd announces crackdown on overseas students and work visas – Home secretary outlines plan for students’ rights to be tied to quality of course as she tries to cut immigration before Brexit”
Next, she went on to make a mess of dealing with the Dubs amendment on child refugees: see this in the Independent: “Amber Rudd claims reports Government is not helping child refugees are ‘fake news’ – Home Secretary they have settled thousands of children in the UK and the Dubs amendment was only a ‘one off‘”
It is interesting to see that Ms Rudd chose to use “fake news” an expression more usually associated with Mr Toad and the wild wood weasels and stoats of the Trump Administration.
It is questionable whether the horrendous 85 page form and the requirements to produce massive quantities of documents is lawful. Handy Guides for EU/EEA nationals can be found on the Free Movement web site: notably this one: “Brexit briefing: Securing EEA Nationals’ Residence Rights” and also this: “Can the Home Office force EU nationals to use the official 85 page permanent residence application form?“.
The latest report from the Select Committee may persuade many MP’s not to oppose the amendment to the Brexit Notification bill made in the House of Lords. It might also lead to the Select Committee taking the Nasty Party’s latest Home Secretary to to task over the horrendous 85 page residence application form.
“No Deal” – Brexit
The Independent has this: “Brexit bill: Theresa May faces another defeat in House of Lords to stop ‘no deal’ EU exit, peers warn – ‘Given the scale of the previous defeat – and the building up of a cross party campaign on this issue – we are again likely to see the government defeated handsomely’”
The CBI is worried: “Brexit without trade deal would open Pandora’s box, says CBI chief – Paul Drechsler says up to 90% of UK exports to EU would be hit by export tariffs or non-tariff barriers if no deal is agreed”
The Telegraph has this on its Premium Pages – (pay to read): “MPs can’t see the catastrophe on the Brexit horizon“.
The House of Lords is expected to continue its scrutiny of the Brexit notification bill today, 7th March 2017 starting at 11 am. The List of Amendments to be discussed is on the Parliament Website and the amendment which matters is the one on page 2 which provides for Parliamentary Approval of any proposed agreement with the remaining EU Member States. It is likely to pass in the House of Lords.
If the Lords pass this Amendments and conclude their scrutiny by this evening, the Bill will have to go back to the House of Commons where the Lords amendments will be considered.
At around 6.35 pm today the Lords divided to vote on Amendment 3 on page 2 of the List (i.e. the one requiring Parliamentary Approval of any proposed agreement with the remaining EU Member States. The Amendment was agreed to by a majority of 366 to 268 (a majority of 98 for the Amendment).
The House of Commons is likely to consider the Lords Amendments on Monday 13th March. The Government will doubtless try to have both amendments rejected by the Commons. The Government has a working majority of 17 in the Commons. One wonders how many Conservative members will be prepared to break ranks. Hopefully some will have the national interest at heart but it would probably need 20+ Conservatives to defy the Conservative whip. If either or both the likely amendments are rejected by the Commons, then the Lords will have to think again.
The “Great Repeal” Bill
The Guardian has this: “Peers warn No 10 against ‘sidelining scrutiny’ when scrapping EU laws – House of Lords constitution committee says ministers should not be able to ditch bits of EU law without consulting MPs and peers“.
This relates to the 9th Report of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution: “The ‘Great Repeal Bill’ and delegated powers“. This report (44 pages) is of considerable importance. The Committee is very high powered and rightly concerned about possible misuse of delegated powers.
As was discussed on this page: “Bad Times are Just Around the Corner” last October – the fear is that the bill will contain Henry VIII clauses. See this discussion paper from the Public Law Project: “Why Henry VIII Clauses should be consigned to the dustbin of history“.