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Boris Johnson guarantees EU citizens' rights in UK 'unequivocally'

PA Wire

Boris Johnson has pledged with "absolute certainty" that the 3.2 million EU nationals in the UK will keep their rights.

In his first Commons statement as Prime Minister, he said he would guarantee their ability to remain after Brexit.

Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement guaranteed citizens' rights, but there would be no automatic protection in the event of a no-deal departure.

Mr Johnson's commitment was welcomed, but there were warnings that UK citizens in Europe would still need their rights protecting in the event of a deal-less departure.

The PM praised the "diversity, the talent and the skills of our workforce" in his statement.

"I want, therefore, to repeat unequivocally our guarantee to the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us," he said.

"I thank them for their contribution to our society and for their patience, and I can assure them that, under this Government, they will have the absolute certainty for the right to live and remain."

The3million campaign group was cautious over the pledge on EU citizens in the UK.

"We hear warm words about EU citizens in the UK but we can only respond once the dust settles and we see detail. We also have not heard anything about our British friends in Europe," a statement said.

"The3million looks forward to meeting with Boris Johnson and his Government to discuss his proposal as soon as possible."

Alberto Costa, a Conservative MP who has campaigned over the issue, said it was important to enshrine the commitment in law.

He told Sky News: "Unless that's done we cannot protect British nationals in the EU in the event of no-deal.

"If we protect EU nationals here ... then member states have said they will pass reciprocal laws protecting the rights of British nationals in the EU in the event of no-deal."

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