Lobby your MP
Lobby your MP about the Article 50 bill
The Bill to allow the Government to trigger Article 50 and formally start Brexit talks with the EU comes back to the House of Commons on Monday 14th March.
MPs will vote on two amendments that the House of Lords have passed, but the Government want to reject.
Please write to your MP to ask them to support the Lords' amendments.
If you are not sure who your local MP is, both websites can will work that out for you based on your postcode.
Tell your MP that you want them to vote for the amendments passed by the Lords. Your letter does not need to be long. Indeed, short is good. But be clear, polite and assertive – and email it or get it into the post today.
Whether your MP is pro-Leave or pro-Remain, and whatever party they are from, you have a right to let them know your views, and it is important that they know that many of their constituents want these amendments kept in the bill.
Your letter or email could simply say you are asking your MP to support the Lords’ amendments, but it would be good to include some reasons. The points below might be useful to you, or you may have other ideas about what to say, but please use your own words, and keep it short and to the point.
The Lords passed two amendments:
i) Rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK
The first amendment was on the on the rights of EU nationals already in the UK. This is not a controversial idea – even the Government agrees that this is reasonable and that the right to stay is likely to be agreed. They just don’t want it in legislation until the rights of UK citizens living in the EU have been agreed – but EU countries are not challenging the rights of UK citizens, and meanwhile there are a lot of worried EU nationals – often with a UK partner and family - here in the UK. If you know people who are personally being affected by the uncertainty, you could mention this and the effect it is having.
Other reasons for supporting this amendment include:
- On Sunday the cross party Brexit committee in the House of Commons said that the Government should announce it will guarantee the status of three million EU nationals currently living in Britain, and not wait for reciprocal reassurance from Brussels, and this was backed by prominent “leave” campaigners including Michael Gove.
- Even if it is not agreed, by voting for the amendment MPs will be demonstrating to the Government how seriously they take this issue, and this will increase the pressure on the Government to agree the idea at an early stage and not wait until the end of Brexit negotiations.
- It can also be argued that the Government could take back some ‘moral high ground’ by accepting this amendment and that this could improve the climate in which Brexit negotiation will take place.
- Finally on this point, one of the speakers at the march on Saturday, Julia Charlton, spoke about how dependent the NHS is on European nationals, and that in the current uncertainty many are leaving or making plans to leave, while numbers of nurses and others arriving from the EU has dropped dramatically, so the country really needs EU nationals to be willing to remain in the UK, and guaranteeing their future rights would go a long way to helping this.
ii) A "meaningful vote" for parliament after the Brexit negotiations
The second amendment from the Lords is about giving parliament a meaningful vote in eighteen months time before the European Parliament votes on any Brexit deal - allowing Parliament, to decide what should happen about leaving the EU and accepting any Brexit deal when the Government have done their negotiating, with all options being considered
This amendment is more controversial and is rejected by those Euro-sceptics who wanted the UK to take back “control” and “sovereignty”. But it is Parliament that is meant to be “sovereign”, and must have the right to over-rule the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
There is also, according to Lord Hope, a former supreme court judge, and other legal experts, a strong legal argument that the government’s current promise, to let parliament vote on a choice of leaving the EU with a Brexit deal or leaving without a deal, will be insufficient to legally leave the EU, and that an Act of Parliament will be needed. The Government dispute this, just as they said they didn’t need an act of parliament to trigger article 50 – but of course the Supreme Court disagreed. If the Lords amendment on a meaningful vote is rejected, we will be into the same legal uncertainty as we had about Article 50. By keeping the amendment, the Government can avoid the legal uncertainty (and the legal fees!)