Up to 30 Tory MPs will join the Article 50 Bill rebellion on EU nationals, according to a peer

Mark Sands
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June. (Source: Getty)

Up to 30 Conservative MPs could join together to force the government to defend the rights of EU nationals, according to one member of the House of Lords,

The Lords last night forced an amendment on to the Article 50 Bill on the topic, handing Prime Minister Theresa May her first parliamentary defeat on Brexit.

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The changes made by peers last night still need approval in the House of Commons, but crossbench peer Baroness Meacher has said that the peers' decision could inspire rebellion among MPs when the tweaked Article 50 Bill returns to the Commons.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Meacher said: “We understand there are 30 Tories who are saying they will vote to support this amendment.

"Obviously the Tory whips in the Commons are going to work extremely hard with all sorts of bribes to get these people to vote with the government.”

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However, MPs previously rejected a similar EU nationals amendment when the Bill was first being scrutinised in the Commons by 332 – 290.

And Westminster sources have played down the prospect of a substantial shift in the numbers when the amended Bill returns to the elected chamber on March 13.

In the meantime, peers are also expected to back a further change granting Parliament a “meaningful” vote on Brexit, which could force May to return to negotiations with the EU.

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