London: The UK Parliament is set to discuss and vote on a crucial bill which will give Prime Minister Theresa May the authority to officially trigger Brexit and start negotiations for leaving the 28-member European Union. The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill will have its final debate and vote later tonight to allow the Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to begin a two-year period of negotiations for the UK's new deal as a non-member of the European Union (EU) by 2019.
The Commons will debate the last set of amendments to the bill, including on key principles for the negotiation process, before the bill goes to its third and final reading for the vote. So far, the bill has passed two days of debate in the Lower House of the UK Parliament without being altered. The Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has instructed his MPs to vote in favour of the bill whether any amendments are made or not.
However, he is set for another round of party rebellion after over 40 MPs had defied the whip at the last vote earlier this month. May herself faces a rebellion of up to a dozen of her Conservative MPs, who are expected to defy the party's whip and vote for the rights of EU citizens living in the UK to be guaranteed before Brexit negotiations begin.
She managed to minimise the Tory rebellion on Tuesday by promising a Commons vote on the Brexit agreement before it is finalised. Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, welcomed this as an important concession but others have dismissed it as a "take it or leave it" offer. The government is expected to win the final voting round,later on Wednesday.
Once the bill passes the Commons, it will be debated in the House of Lords after it returns from recess on February 20, where it is expected to be given the final nod.
The bill was tabled last month after the Supreme Court ruled that MPs and peers must have a say before Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty could be triggered. It rejected the UK government's argument that May had sufficient executive powers to trigger Brexit without consulting the Parliament.
David Davis, UK minister for exiting the European Union, had opened the debate in the House of Commons with a clear message to MPs that they must implement a decision made by the people in the June 2016 referendum – with 51.9 percent wanting to leave the EU and 48.1 percent wanting to remain within the 28-nation economic bloc.
Updated Date: Feb 08, 2017 18:43 PM