MPs pass Brexit Bill leaving EU workers in limbo

By Claire Churchard

- Last updated on GMT

EU workers rights to stay post-Brexit remain uncertain
EU workers rights to stay post-Brexit remain uncertain

Related tags United kingdom

The rights of EU workers to stay in the UK after Brexit remain uncertain after parliament passed the bill that will allow Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 to leave the bloc.

Last night MPs rejected amendments to the Brexit Bill, tabled by the House of Lords, that would have guaranteed EU nationals UK residency and given parliament a meaningful vote on the final deal.

Members of the House of Lords had added the amendment on EU residency rights to prevent employees being used as “bargaining chips” in the negotiations to leave the EU.

MPs in the House of Commons, however, overturned the amendments and sent the Bill back to the Lords, where it was not contested. The Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent on Tuesday at which point it will become law. However, Government sources reportedly said Article 50 was unlikely to be triggered this week, with the Prime Minister expected to wait until the end of March to start negotiations.

Brexit secretary David Davis said: Parliament has backed the Government in its determination to get on with the job of leaving the EU. We are now on the threshold of the most important negotiation for our country in a generation.”

Prior to the vote in parliament, a report from Migration Watch UK had called for the introduction of a temporary two-year work permit for EU Nationals in the UK post-Brexit to help employers to plan ahead.

In response to the report, ALMR urged the Government to act decisively and clearly to safeguard hospitality jobs and support UK businesses.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Pubs, bars, restaurants and nightclubs rely on migrant employees, particularly those workers from the European Union who come to work in the UK.”

Research from the industry body shows that almost a quarter of the total hospitality and tourism workforce is comprised of non-UK workers, rising to nearly 40% for eating and drinking-out businesses, and almost half of those come from within the EU.

Nicholls said: “This is a hugely significant part of a workforce that plays a significant role in the UK’s economy.

“The Government needs to ensure that arrangements for both employers and migrant employees are put in place well in advance of the eventual withdrawal date to ensure that businesses have some clarity and a chance to plan accordingly. A temporary permit for non-UK workers will provide some short-term stability for businesses, but we still need a long-term solution set out for businesses in order to plan and to safeguard investments and jobs.”

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