Parliament passes Brexit Bill Clearing the way for EU Exit Talks
The UK government has been given the go ahead to trigger Article 50 after Parliament passed the Brexit Bill.
MPs overturned the peers’ objections, forcing them to back down from the meaningful vote and EU residency rights issues. The Peers arrived at the decision after the so-called “ping pong” period during which a bill moves back and forth between the two Houses. Eventually, the Peers had to bow down to the supremacy of the House of Commons.
This bill now goes to the final stage where it will receive Royal Assent and then becoming a binding law.
With that, Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March can proceed.
Some analysts had expected Ms May to fire the gun immediately the Tuesday vote is held but others believe she will keep things at bay until the final week of March.
335 to 287 MPs voted against amendments on the EU nationals’ rights, a vote that was later accepted by 274 peers against 135. The Bill had also suggested that a meaningful vote be held on the final Brexit deal but this was also voted down by 331 to 286, a majority of 45.
The Lords also accepted this vote by 274 to 118. Lady Smith, Labour leader, supported the final decision saying that continued opposition against the government would bear no fruits. She said that under no circumstances would MPs be persuaded to change their minds.
She added that if there was “a glimmer of hope” that they could “change this bill” she would fight it tooth and nail. “But it doesn’t seem to be the case.”
High Tensions as Parliament passes Brexit Bill
Labour and the Lib Dems were entangled in tough criticism against each other, with the Lib Dems leader Tim Farron attacking the main opposition. He said that Labour had thrown away an opportunity to stop Theresa May’s plans for hard Brexit. “Tonight there will be families fearful that they are going to be torn apart and feeling they are no longer welcome in Britain.” He turned his fury on the government, saying that it had used “people as chips in a casino”.
If the amendments had gone through, Theresa May’s team would have had to present a proposal on how to keep safe EU citizens once Article 50 is triggered. Parliament would also have been enabled to vote on the final Brexit deal.
While speaking to colleagues, Brexit secretary David Davis said that the peers and MPs had presented passionate, sincere and self-convicted arguments. He added that it is his desire for the legislation to be on point for the government to focus on the Brexit process.
Davis also maintained that it is his moral responsibility to protect EU citizens living in the UK and the Britons residing all over the continent.
The Scotland Factor
The Brexit Bill was passed at a time when Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed the desire to push forth a Scottish independence referendum as the Brexit negotiations will be drawing to an end.
According to Ms Sturgeon, the second referendum is preferred to be conducted between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.
Opinion polls indicate that 50/50 Scots support the independence. Being one of the countries that voted to remain in the EU, its first minister is determined to offer the Scottish people a choice at the end of the negotiations of a “hard Brexit” or living in an independent Scotland.
She said that the UK government was not considerate to any extent and that its agreement was uncompromised.
May had hoped to begin a smooth Brexit negotiation but all that got shattered after Sturgeon remained adamant of maintaining the union.
The PM had pointed on the need to collaborate with Scotland and that the North did not have a reason for a second referendum. But after Sturgeon’s remarks, the PM said that Scotland had embarked on an uncertain path. “The tunnel vision that the SNP has shown today is deeply regrettable. It sets Scotland on a course for more uncertainty and division, creating huge uncertainty,” she said and accused the first minister of gambling with her country’s future.
Sturgeon accused May of having refused to allow Scotland access to the single market via a special deal.
When will May trigger Article 50?
Theoretically speaking, Theresa May would have triggered Article 50 as early as Tuesday.
But sources from Downing Street have reliably told media outlets that such a thing won’t happen this week. The Prime Minister is said to be waiting until the end of this month so as to write to the EU on the UK intentions to quit the union.
“Parliament has today backed the government in its determination to get on with the job of leaving the EU. We are now on the threshold of the most important negotiation for our country in a generation,” Brexit Secretary David Davis said.
Tory rebels were left furious after their call for a final vote even if no Brexit deal was arrived at fell on deaf ears. The MPs thwarted the pleas even though the Ministers seemed ready to give the idea a chance.
One MP said that they had full assurance that the government was fully determined to get a better Brexit deal and turn to World Trade Organizations.