UK Parliament Brings Brexit One Step Closer

The UK Parliament backed a second reading of legislation to sever ties with the European Union early this morning (Sept 12th), a reprieve for Prime Minister Theresa May who saw her party line up behind her without dissent, whilst Jeremy Corbyn's Labour opposition was split. 

After more than 13 hours of speeches for and against the legislation, which May says is essential for Brexit, lawmakers voted 326 to 290 in favour of moving the EU withdrawal bill, or repeal bill, to the next stage of a lengthy lawmaking process, as reported by Reuters. 

Many fell in step with the government which said a vote against the legislation would force Britain into a chaotic exit from the EU, rather than a smooth departure, as the country would lack laws and a regulatory framework to steer the process. 

May, weakened by the loss of her majority in a June election, now faces a battle against politicians who want to force amendments to the bill, first in the lower house of parliament and then in Britain’s unelected upper chamber. 

“Earlier this morning parliament took a historic decision to back the will of the British people and vote for a bill which gives certainty and clarity ahead of our withdrawal from the European Union,” May said in a statement. 

“Although there is more to do, this decision means we can move on with negotiations with solid foundations and we continue to encourage MPs (lawmakers) from all parts of the UK to work together in support of this vital piece of legislation.”

“This is a deeply disappointing result... This bill is an affront to parliamentary democracy and a naked power grab by government ministers ... It will make the Brexit process more uncertain, and lead to division and chaos when we need unity and clarity.”

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Brexit spokesman

Despite the victory for a government now dependent on the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to secure a working majority, ministers will face attempts by both Conservative and Labour lawmakers to change the bill. 

“Labour will seek to amend and remove the worst aspects from the bill as it passes through parliament,” Starmer said. “But the flaws are so fundamental it’s hard to see how this bill could ever be made fit for purpose.”

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today. 

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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