UK’s Brexit bill set to clear first legislative hurdle

- Reuters, London

Feb 2, 2017-

A law allowing Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Britain’s exit from the European Union is expected to clear its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday, paving the way for the government to launch divorce talks by the end of March.

May’s government is seeking approval for a new law giving her the right to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty–the legal process for leaving the bloc–after the Supreme Court ruled last week that she could not take that decision unilaterally.

The bill could complete the legislative process by March 7.

May plans to begin exit negotiations with the EU by March 31, starting two years of talks that will define Britain’s economic and political future and test the unity of the EU’s 27 remaining members.

Lawmakers are expected to reject an attempt to throw out the bill, proposed by pro-EU Scottish nationalists, and then vote in favour of allowing it to progress to the next, more detailed, legislative stage. The first vote should take place at 1900 GMT.

The votes will come after hours of impassioned speeches in parliament that began on Tuesday, which have underlined the lingering sense of shock among the largely pro-European political establishment that 52 percent of their constituents voted to leave the EU in a referendum last year.

“I greatly fear that generations that either did not vote or are yet to come will not thank us for our great folly,” Conservative lawmaker Anna Soubry said in Tuesday’s debate. Despite presiding over a Conservative Party divided over staying in the EU, May, who campaigned for a ‘Remain’ vote, has secured almost unanimous support from her lawmakers for the legislation. That means her 16-seat parliamentary majority should be enough to see the bill progress.

The opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has also pledged his party’s support for the bill at this stage, although many of his lawmakers have said they will defy him.

Labour will try to amend the bill at the next stage–due to start next week–to give parliament greater scrutiny over the Brexit talks.

 

‘White Paper’ document today

LONDON: The British government will publish a “White Paper” document on Thursday, setting out its plan for leaving the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament. 

White papers are policy documents produced by the government that set out their proposals for future legislation. Last week, May promised a Brexit white paper and lawmakers had called for the government to publish it before a vote on triggering Brexit is held in parliament.

Published: 02-02-2017 08:34

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