UK moves closer to EU divorce as Parliament clears way for Brexit talks | 2017-03-14 |

UK moves closer to EU divorce as Parliament clears way for Brexit talks

Sun Online Desk     14th March, 2017 08:54:31 printer

UK moves closer to EU divorce as Parliament clears way for Brexit talks

Britain has moved a step closer to leaving the European Union after Parliament cleared the way for Theresa May to begin formal Brexit negotiations.


The landmark legislation, which allows the Prime Minister to trigger the start of the Article 50 withdrawal process, completed its passage through the House of Lords on Monday without amendment.


Peers backed down over the issues of EU residency rights and a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal after their objections were overturned by MPs.


The bill is expected to receive Royal Assent and become law on Tuesday.


Brexit Secretary David Davis hailed the outcome, saying the UK was "on the threshold of the most important negotiation for our country in a generation".


The result came as Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that she intended to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence at a time when Brexit negotiations are expected to be reaching a conclusion.


Ms Sturgeon said she wanted a vote to be held between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of the following year.


The prime minister could theoretically invoke Article 50, which formally starts the Brexit process, as early as Tuesday.


However, Downing Street sources have said this will not happen this week and the PM is expected to wait until the end of the month to officially notify the EU of the UK's intention to leave, thus beginning what is expected to be a two-year process.


The EU Withdrawal Bill was passed unamended after peers voted by 274 votes to 118 not to challenge the Commons again over the issue of whether Parliament should have a veto on the terms of exit.


The House of Lords had already agreed not to reinsert guarantees over the status of EU residents in the UK back into the bill after they were rejected by MPs, with the government winning the vote by a margin of 274 votes to 135.


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was "deeply disappointing" the Government had refused to give ground but that it was "only the start of the process".


"Labour, at every stage, will challenge the Government's plans for a bargain basement Brexit with Labour's alternative of a Brexit that puts jobs, living standards and rights first," he said.