THE UK government has been dealt a Brexit blow after the House of Lords voted overwhelmingly to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain.
Peers are demanding that prime minister Theresa May guarantee the rights within three months of triggering Article 50.
The vote in favour of the amendment means the bill will now go back to the House of Commons for MPs consideration before it finishes passing through the House of Lords.
Some 358 voted in favour of the amendment while 256 voted against.
A government spokesperson from the Department for Exiting the EU said: “We are disappointed the Lords have chosen to amend a bill that the House of Commons passed without amendment.
“The bill has a straightforward purpose – to enact the referendum result and allow the Government to get on with negotiations.
“Our position on EU nationals has repeatedly been made clear. We want to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain, and the rights of British nationals living in other member states, as early as we can.”
The Government has previously argued it cannot guarantee the rights of EU nationals until British expats in Europe are given the same assurances.
The House of Commons will now have to decide whether or not to accept the new amendment or to vote against it, in which case it would go back to the House of Lords in a process that is known as ping-pong.
Peers have hinted that they will be unlikely to vote against it a second time.