The Government has published its bill asking Parliament for permission to trigger the official Brexit process but will give MPs just three days to debate it.MPs will debate the European Union Notification of Withdrawal Bill on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Government has announced, with a third day of debate and a vote on 8 February.It will then go to the House of Lords to be discussed.Labour MPs reacted angrily, saying the Government was trying to ‘railroad’ legislation through without proper discussion.
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Former shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna accused ministers of attempting to ‘muzzle’ the Commons by rushing the bill through within two weeks.Former Labour frontbencher Chris Leslie said: ‘It is simply unacceptable for ministers to try and railroad this incredibly important law through Parliament without sufficient time for proper debate.’It beggars belief that we will have far less time to debate the legislation that takes us out of the EU than we did with previous European treaties.
On Thursday Jeremy Corbyn ordered his MPs to support triggering Article 50 with a three-line whip – risking a split in the party.It is estimated up to 60 Labour MPs – mostly representing constituencies that voted to remain in the EU – are threatening to vote against the Article 50 process. A number of Labour MPs are understood to be threatening to resign from the frontbench over the issue. Mr Corbyn said he understood the pressures facing those who represented Remain constituencies but that his MPs should now unite around the important issues such as jobs, the economy and rights.
The Prime Minister is pushing forward the tight timetable to allow her to meet the end of March deadline she set for formally notifying the EU that the UK will leave, starting the two-year negotiating period. The Government was forced to publish the Article 50 legislation after a defeat at the Supreme Court earlier this week, when judges ruled Mrs May must ask MPs for permission to officially start Brexit negotiations.
The two-clause bill says simply: ‘The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU. Brexit Secretary David Davis said: ‘The British people have made the decision to leave the EU and this Government is determined to get on with the job of delivering it.’ So today we have introduced a bill in Parliament which will allow us to formally trigger Article 50 by the end of March. ‘I trust that Parliament, which backed the referendum by six to one, will respect the decision taken by the British people and pass the legislation quickly.’
Pro-Remain MPs are expected to begin tabling dozens of amendments in order to shape the direction of negotiations, which pro-Leave MPs claim are part of a plot to sabotage Brexit. During a debate on Thursday afternoon about a motion allowing amendments to be tabled earlier than other bills, Chris Leslie pointed out that MPs were already queuing to put amendments forward.
On Wednesday, Mrs May promised a white paper formally setting out the Government’s Brexit strategy but has refused to say when it will be published. Mr Davis said on Thursday that the publication would be as ‘expeditious as it can be’, although it seems unlikely it will come before the 8 February vote. Labour wants to see guarantees of a vote on a final deal and regular updates to Parliament on the process being made in EU negotiations.
By Zoe Catchpole, UK Political Reporter –
Source: Sky News
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