The British government’s lack of clarity over the future status of the north of Ireland, citizens’ rights and the financial settlement has come under intense criticism from GUE/NGL group during the Brexit debate at the plenary this morning and in a European Parliament resolution.

The vote urged EU leaders to postpone trade talks until core issues are resolved and was passed by a big majority –  557 votes in favour, 92 against with 29 abstentions – in the Parliament.

Theresa May’s speech in Florence failed to clarify the confusion over Britain’s position on leaving the EU. Concerns over the border in Ireland remain, for example, as do the rights of the millions of EU citizens living and working in the UK, and British citizens in other member states.

On Ireland, GUE/NGL co-shadow on Brexit Martina Anderson MEP – whose constituency overwhelmingly voted against Brexit – said not only must the Good Friday Agreement be upheld in full, Theresa May must recognise that the requirements of the north of Ireland are different to those of Britain:

“The Good Friday Agreement in all its parts includes, as this resolution recognises, being in the Single Market and the Customs Union. Britain should remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union. But if it does not – then the north of Ireland must.”

“ ’In some form’ could mean the north of Ireland staying in the EU, or it could mean Irish unity – and the Good Friday Agreement has provisions for a unity poll – A Right to Decide,” she argued.

“This resolution is balanced with regard to citizens’ rights and the financial settlement. If you support the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Ireland – this resolution covers it,” she said.

Meanwhile, group co-shadow Barbara Spinelli is pleased to see the Parliament sharing her concerns over the lack of progress regarding citizens’ rights. However, her major worry is that the final agreement could yet be watered down:   

“Through the European Parliament’s Joint Resolution, it sends out a message that I share: sufficient progress on citizens’ rights is missing, and the issue over the north of Ireland is far from being solved.”

“However, I wonder what will be the fate of the future agreement on citizens’ rights, once we will consider it as being sufficient.  How can we shelter them from the sudden regressions that might occur due to the principle ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’?,” she pondered.

“Another question concerns the freedom of movement: I fear that Brexit will be used to reduce that freedom also in the EU, especially for low-skilled workers. I hope that there will not be compromises on this and that we will protect the status of all European citizens without any conditionality,” the Italian MEP argued.

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