Don’t Let Brexit Endanger Rights, Parliament Warns

  • Panel calls on Premier to guarantee residency of EU citizens
  • Lawmakers say post-Brexit trade deal must respect human rights

The fundamental rights of British citizens must be protected as the U.K. negotiates its divorce from the European Union, a cross-party panel of lawmakers said.

Rights enshrined in EU laws and treaties go further than those in domestic law and other international agreements, Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights said in a report on Monday. The panel, including members of both the House of Commons and House of Lords, also urged Prime Minister Theresa May to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in Britain.

“The government must not use human rights as a bargaining chip,” Committee Chairwoman Harriet Harman said in a statement. “The government will continue to have obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” which protects the right to private and family life, and “could not deport the large numbers of EU nationals currently in the U.K.” she said.

While May has tried to keep her negotiating strategy confidential, to strengthen her hand when she triggers formal talks by the end of March, her approach faces increasing scrutiny from lawmakers. Everything from the effect of Brexit on higher education to repercussions for banks, fisheries and the environment has been examined by committees and in questions to ministers.

The panel urged ministers to publish a detailed list of rights that are currently guaranteed by EU membership, and spell out whether the government intends to change or preserve them. They also said Britain should seek to include provisions on human rights in any trade agreements the country strikes after Brexit, in the same way as the EU.

The recommendation on resident rights for EU nationals currently in Britain follows a similar appeal last Wednesday by the House of Lords European Union Committee, which called on May to issue a a unilateral guarantee, regardless of whether it’s reciprocated by the other EU states.

The premier has repeatedly said she wants to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K. but it’s contingent on the rights of Britons abroad also being respected. On Thursday, she used a meeting in Brussels to urge leaders of the other 27 nations in the bloc to resolve the issue early in the talks.

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