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Alberto Costa resigns after pushing EU citizens’ plan backed by Sajid Javid

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LONDON — A Conservative MP who put forward a plan to safeguard EU citizens’ rights after Brexit was forced to resign from Theresa May’s government despite ministers saying Downing Street would back the plan.

Alberto Costa had tabled an amendment for this evening’s series of Brexit votes which called on the prime minister to strike a deal with Brussels which safeguards the rights of EU citizens even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs on Wednesday morning that he had “no problem” with the amendment and said the government would be supporting it.

But Theresa May on Tuesday indicated that the government would not be backing the plan, telling MPs that a “separate agreement for citizens’ rights is something the EU have been clear they do not have the legal authority for.”

Labour has also indicated that it will back the plan, meaning it is likely to pass with the help of a handful of Tory rebels even if Theresa May decides to oppose the plan.

If the government does back the plan, it creates an extraordinary situation in which an MP will have been forced to resign for pushing a plan that had the explicit support of Downing Street.

A Downing Street spokesperson said that Costa, a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS), chose to resign “because he felt so strongly” about the issue.

Convention means that MPs on the government payroll can’t table amendments to a government bill regardless of whether the government opposes those amendments or not, the spokesperson added.

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