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Citizens' groups in EU27 react angrily to draft Brexit deal

 Jacob Rees-Mogg on Thursday.
Jacob Rees-Mogg on Thursday. / AFP
  • After Theresa May's cabinet approved the 585-page document on Wednesday she faced the resignations of a further three senior Conservatives

Citizens' groups representing Britons abroad have reacted "with anger and disappointment" to the draft Brexit deal which Theresa May's cabinet approved on Wednesday evening.

British in Europe, which is an umbrella organisation representing British people's rights with regards to Brexit, issued a statement on Thursday morning while MPs debated the 585-page draft document in the House of Commons.

Jane Golding, co-chair of British in Europe said, "We were told in March that citizens' rights were a done deal and that discussions on this would not be reopened. However it is clear from the text that some changes have in fact been made, meaning that it is unacceptable and upsetting that free movement - a lifeline for many of us - has been excluded when both sides knew it was critical for us."

By Thursday morning, May's draft deal had already led to the resignation of three senior Tories and calls for the prime minister herself to stand down.

May faced mounting pressure as three Conservative ministers, including the second Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Dominic Raab; Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey; and Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, Ranil Jayawardena, all resigned over the draft deal.

The same morning, which heard impassioned statements from both sides of the Brexit debate, details of a letter written by hard Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg emerged in which he calls for a vote of no confidence against Theresa May and suggests she should "step aside". Leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, whose views on Brexit have never been made clear, said that the existing deal "does not meet Labour's six tests".

Throughout Thursday's debate in the Commons, when challenged on the possibility of a People's Vote on the final deal, May repeatedly said that there would be "no second vote" and that "the British people voted to leave in the 2016 referendum and that is what we will deliver".

She also stated that there were "no plans for no Brexit" but that in the event of a no deal, the rights of EU citizens already living in the UK "would be protected". The rights of British citizens living in the EU27 remain in limbo.

At a press conference later on Thursday May said that she was "determined to see this though" despite growing criticism.

Healthcare bill debate

While the cabinet was meeting at Downing Street to agree on the draft deal, the second reading of the Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill was being debated at Westminster. The bill aims to legislate for post-Brexit alternatives to Britain's current reciprocal healthcare arrangements with the European Union.

Minister of State for the Department of Health and Social Care, Stephen Barclay, presented the bill and said that it "will help to ensure that UK nationals who live and work in EU countries can continue to access healthcare on the same basis as local people".

The bill was largely supported by MPs who participated in the reading. It will now be commended to the House of Commons and will pass to a committee stage.