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LONDON – British politicians will today make a direct appeal to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens living in Europe, if Britain crashes out of the bloc with no deal in October.
EU negotiators have insisted that the UK cannot “cherry-pick” parts of the Withdrawal Agreement should parliament fail to approve the deal.
However, the cross-party group, led by Conservative MP Alberto Costa, will ask Barnier in a meeting in Brussels to safeguard the rights of EU nationals in the UK, and British citizens living on the continent, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
In February, parliament approved an amendment, introduced by Costa, which sought to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK “whatever the outcome of negotiations on other aspects of the withdrawal agreement.”
However, Barnier has warned that it would be “far from straightforward” to protect the rights of EU citizens if the withdrawal agreement was not passed.
In a letter to Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay in June, Barnier added: “Our joint efforts should remain focused on making sure that the withdrawal agreement will be ratified and will enter into force.”
“In the event of no-deal the United Kingdom Parliament can take measures to protect EU nationals in the UK,” Costa told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“But we do not have powers to pass legislation extraterritorial, in other words within the EU, to protect our own citizens.”
He said the UK would be “abrogating its responsibilities” to UK citizens without bilateral arrangements with member states.
“If Britain chooses to exit without an agreement in place, it would be terminating the rights of British citizens overnight,” he said.
“I want to understand from Michel Barnier what his position is in carving out citizens’ rights, why he has said, thus far, no to that.”
A spokesperson for the3million, an EU citizens’ rights group, called on the EU to stop using citizens as “bargaining chips.”
“We represent 5 million people who are sick and tired of being used as hostages against a no-deal situation,” the spokesperson told Business Insider.
“We agree with Barnier that there should be no mini-deals, no re-negotiation, no cherry-picking. But we are not cherries and it is perfectly possible to implement the citizens’ rights part while saying “no” to any other unpicking.”
“There are no legal or technical obstacles to implementing the citizens’ rights part of the agreement, only political ones.”
Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain’s departure from the EU, direct from Business Insider’s political reporters. Joinhere.
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