The government will seek to block any changes to its Brexit bill, and overturn the defeat suffered in the House of Lords.

Peers voted 358 to 256 to add an amendment to the government’s bill and guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit.

The government has said it cannot guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK without a reciprocal agreement from other EU nations that thousands of Britons call home. However, peers argue that the plight of those that have chosen to make a life in the UK should not be used as a negotiating chip, and it was a moral imperative for the UK to guarantee their rights.

The Lords also say that by acting first, the UK will gain goodwill in the negotiations and the EU 27 would likely follow suit and guarantee the rights of UK citizens living in their countries.

Ministers will have the opportunity to to remove the Lords’ amendment when the bill returns to the Commons, but before then the Lords will vote on other amendments, including one which would give parliament the chance to vote on the final Brexit agreement before the UK decides to leave the EU following the two years of negotiations.

Conservative whips believe they have the support needed to resist the amendment on the plight of EU migrants, but they fear the second amendment about a parliamentary vote could receive wider support and could force the government’s hand.

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