The Brexit bill passed unamended into law to cheers from Conservative MPs; housebuilders who face a worsening skills crisis are feeling less celebratory.
Despite the best efforts of the House of Lords who passed an amendment to the Article 50 Bill to give all EU citizens living in the UK the right to remain, the Bill has passed into law unchanged. MPs rejected the amendment on Monday night, leaving 8% of the construction industry’s workforce facing an uncertain future. In London, EU workers make up one in four construction workers.
May is now expected formally to trigger Article 50 before the end of March.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on the Prime Minister to give an immediate cast-iron guarantee to EU nationals that they can stay in the UK after Brexit.
Khan wants the unilateral pledge, protecting the 3.3million EU citizens who currently live in Britain, to be given as soon as Theresa May triggers Article 50, formally starting the Brexit process.
Around one million of them are in London. The Mayor said, “My message to them is clear: you are Londoners, you are welcome here and you deserve a commitment from the government that you can stay.”
The Mayor wants the Home Office to set up a separate simple and comprehensive process for all EU nationals legally in the UK to apply for permanent residence.
He believes the current system is not fit for purpose – a view shared by the Select Committee on Exiting the EU who discussed the impact of Brexit with the Mayor earlier this week.
The pound also faltered on the news, hitting an eight-week low against the euro. Construction costs pressures are already at a eight-and-a-half-year high, and any further fall in the pound is likely to exacerbate this further.