Leading Brexiteers Michael Gove and Dominic Raab have joined calls for Downing Street to protect EU nationals' rights

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

The pressure is growing on Prime Minister Theresa May to guarantee the rights of EU nationals after a cross-party group of MPs, including some heavy hitter Brexiteers, called on Downing Street to act.

The House of Lords last week passed an amendment to the Article 50 Bill including a unilateral offer to protect Europeans resident in the UK, and now MPs including Michael Gove and Dominic Raab have echoed the call.

Parliament's Brexit select committee has unanimously called on the government to safeguard the rights of EU nationals, including access to healthcare and pensions.

It is particularly notable because both Gove and Raab were senior figures in the Vote Leave campaign, while the committee also features Brexiteer and former culture secretary John Whittingdale.

Read More: Labour shortages start to bite in UK sectors employing many EU nationals

Committee chair Hilary Benn said: “EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU are aware of the forthcoming negotiations, but they do not want to be used as bargaining chips. Although the government has said it wants EU citizens to be able to remain, this has not offered sufficient reassurance that the rights and status that they have enjoyed will be guaranteed. It should now do so.”

May has repeatedly said that she would like to offer reassurance to Europeans resident in the UK, but has been stymied by a reluctance on the part of other member states to negotiate over the future of British citizens abroad.

It comes as peers prepare to resume debate the on the Article 50 Bill on Tuesday, having defeated the government last week.

Once peers pass the Bill, it will be up to MPs to vote on the changes put in place in the House of Lords, and at least one peer thinks there could be substantial shift on EU nationals.

However, when a similar amendment was mooted in the Commons last month, it was rejected by MPs 332 – 290.

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