Article 50 bill to complete passage through Commons

Written by Josh May on 13 March 2017 in News

MPs to vote on whether to overturn two amendments added to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Lords

House of Commons - credit: Parliament

The EU bill could complete its journey through the House of Commons today, leaving Prime Minister Theresa May free to trigger Article 50 when she chooses

The Commons will today vote on whether to overturn two amendments that were added to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Lords.

MPs are expected to reject both changes, which relate to the rights of EU citizens already living in the UK and the nature of the vote parliament will have on the final terms of the Brexit deal.

Labour will support both amendments, and Jeremy Corbyn is set to address a rally outside of Parliament this evening in support of EU citizens’ rights.


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Once the MPs have made their decision the bill returns to the House of Lords, where peers will decide whether to pass further amendments and send it back to the Commons or to approve the version sent to them.

The Labour leadership in the House of Lords has indicated it is likely to allow the bill to pass.

The bill then receives royal assent, at which point May will have the legal authority to trigger Article 50 when she chooses and open the two-year negotiating window for leaving the EU.

It comes as the heads of some 35 Oxford university colleges, including vice-chancellor Louise Richardson, call on MPs to back the amendment allowing EU citizens the right to stay after Brexit.

May has insisted the rights of EU nationals are at the top of her priorities in Brexit talks, but top ministers David Davis and Liam Fox hinted yesterday that a formal agreement on the issue might not be possible until the end of negotiations.

In a letter to the Times the heads warn that the university and its research would "suffer enormous damage" if its European staff - including lecturers, researchers and support staff - lose their right to work in the UK.

“Our EU colleagues are not reassured by a government which tells them that deportation is not going to happen but declines to convert that assurance into law; some are worried, some are desperate, some are already making plans to leave,” they said.

A handful of Tory MPs are expected to rebel and vote in favour of the amendment demanding that the Commons and Lords have a say if the Government decides to walk away from negotiations and leave the EU with no successor deal.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said yesterday that the UK would be “perfectly OK” in such circumstances, but new research from the House of Commons Library suggested a failure to agree new terms would put Britain in a worse trading position than every other major economy.

Commissioned by Labour MP Pat McFadden, the analysis shows that all the G20 countries have some sort of preferential trading terms – whether mutual recognition agreements or free trade agreements – in place with the EU.

In a statement put out by the Open Britain group, McFadden said a reversion to World Trade Organisation rules was an “extreme position”.

“The Government's threat to walk away from negotiations betrays a dangerous complacency about how countries outside the EU currently trade with the EU,” he added.

“The Government is flirting, as a negotiating tactic, with an option that poses huge dangers to UK industry, services and agriculture.

"This is why it is vital for Parliament to have a meaningful say in the negotiations to come, and to have a say on both a Free Trade Agreement and what should happen in the event of no deal being agreed.”

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