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MPs to demand assurances over British citizens' rights in EU

REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

A cross-party delegation of MPs is to meet EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier to demand the protection of UK citizens' rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Tory MP Alberto Costa warned that 1.3 million British citizens living, working and studying in Europe could have their rights extinguished "overnight" after a deal-less break.

Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the Tories fighting to become the next leader, have said they are willing to depart on a no-deal basis if necessary.

Front-runner Mr Johnson has pledged to secure the rights of the 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK, but he has no legal power to protect Britons in Europe.

Mr Costa is leading the cross-party delegation to meet Mr Barnier in Brussels on Friday.

"In the event of no-deal the United Kingdom Parliament can take measures to protect EU nationals in the UK," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"But we do not have powers to pass legislation extraterritorial, in other words within the EU, to protect our own citizens."

The Government would be "abrogating its responsibilities" to UK citizens without bilateral agreements with member states, Mr Costa added.

"If Britain chooses to exit without an agreement in place, it would be terminating the rights of British citizens overnight."

"I want to understand from Michel Barnier what his position is in carving out citizens' rights, why he has said, thus far, no to that."

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