British PM May moves closer to Brexit negotiations

Kai Liu
By Kai Liu
March 13, 2017News

British Prime Minister Theresa May could clear the final hurdle standing between her and the start of Brexit negotiations on Monday (March 13) as lawmakers in the House of Commons met to thrash out the final wording of a bill giving her the power to start the EU exit process.

In the debate the government called on lawmakers to throw out changes to the bill made by the upper house of parliament (House of Lords), arguing that May and her ministers need freedom to operate without restriction to get a good deal.

If successful, May could be ready to start a two-year negotiation period, as defined by Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, as early as Tuesday (March 14).

Brexit Secretary David Davis told members of parliament he “was disappointed the Lords had voted to amend the bill.” He called on the lawmakers to vote the bill without delay.

The debate comes after the government lost two key votes in parliament’s upper chamber in recent weeks, adding conditions to the bill saying May must guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in Britain and give lawmakers more powers to reject the final terms she reaches with the EU.

Davis tried to reassure lawmakers that the government would ensure the rights of EU nationals living in the U.K.—so long as there was a reciprocal agreement for Brits living in EU countries.

After a two-hour debate and at least one vote, the bill will be sent immediately back to the upper house for debate and approval.

The unelected upper house, wary of being seen as trying to block the outcome of last June’s Brexit vote, is not expected to fight for its changes a second time, providing Davis strikes a conciliatory tone and acknowledges their concerns.

If they approve the bill, it will then be sent to Queen Elizabeth for symbolic approval, which could be granted as early as Tuesday morning.


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