May gets warning over EU nationals
The human rights of EU nationals resident in the UK must not be used as bargaining chips in Brexit negotiations, a British parliamentary watchdog has warned.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to secure the status of the estimated 2.9 million people from the EU - including 500,000 Irish - living in the UK at the start of the Article 50 negotiations by reaching a separate preliminary agreement on the matter.
An interim report by the cross-party parliamentary committee also calls on Mrs May to clarify whether she intends to strip any rights from the EU nationals resident in the UK.
The committee is demanding that any future legislation should include safeguards for EU nationals, and parliament should have the final say on any changes to their status.
The report notes that International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has reportedly described EU nationals in the UK as one of the "main cards" in Brexit negotiations.
Committee chairwoman and Labour MP Harriet Harman said: "The government must not use human rights as a bargaining chip.
"Moreover, the government will continue to have obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as we set out in our report. The UK government could not deport the large numbers of EU nationals currently in the UK.
"In the unlikely and unwelcome event that the government sought to deport EU nationals, there could be the potential for significant, expensive and lengthy litigation, leading to considerable legal uncertainty for a prolonged period of time."
The report states the British government would not be able to establish a rule that would allow the deportation of EU nationals merely on the grounds that they had only been resident for a fixed period of time.
Other factors, such as family connections, and the residence rights of children, would be relevant, and each case would need to be considered on its own facts, it said.