The Government is to publish legislation to pave the way for Brexit negotiations with the European Union within days. It comes after Theresa May’s administration lost its appeal in the Supreme Court over whether an Act of Parliament is required authorising it to invoke Article 50 – the formal notification of the UK’s intention to leave the EU.
While the Secretary of State for Brexit, David Davis, has said that the Government believes the bill would be short and straightforward, a number of MPs on both sides of the Commons, as well as peers in the House of Lords, have indicated that they will table amendments while a small number have said they will vote against invoking Article 50.
Last week Mrs May was forced into a climb down and announced that the Government would publish a white paper setting out its aims in the Brexit negotiations with the EU. This came after about 12 Conservative MPs threatened to rebel in any vote on a bill.
Mrs May has repeatedly said that she will trigger Article 50 before the end of March and the bill is expected to be rushed through both Houses over the next two or three weeks to ensure that she meets that timetable.
While no timetable for a bill has been set out, Number 10 said that time is available in Parliamentary this next week.
The Liberal Democrats have said that they will vote against Article 50 if the Government does not promise to put the final deal with the EU to another referendum.
The Scottish Nationalist Party, meanwhile, has said that it will table up to 50 amendments to the legislation in an effort to secure Scotland’s place in the European Single Market and Customs Union. Meanwhile, although Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that his party will not oppose Article 50 and has indicated that he will order his MPs to vote for it, many Labour members are thought to be lining up to slow the process down and table amendments.
Other Brexit News:
Mrs May has travelled to the US to become the first foreign leader to meet new US President Donald Trump. Mr Trump has said that he wants a quick free trade deal negotiated between the UK and US ready to be implemented when Britain leaves the EU. The man tipped to be the next US ambassador to the EU said on the eve of Mrs May’s visit that a free trade deal between the two countries could be sketched out in as little as three months. He added: “There won’t be a deal signed in the White House on Friday, but there could be an agreement for a framework going forward where people are empowered to have that kind of conversation behind closed doors,” said Ted Malloch. He added: “That’s very positive, I think, and it also sends a signal that the United States is behind Great Britain in its hour of need.” But Prof Malloch’s optimism is not shared by many economists who said that a deal between the UK and US could take years to negotiate and that America had far more to gain from it than Britain.
European academics are leaving British universities in advance of Brexit meaning that many institutions are missing out on critical research, a leading academic has said. Dr Jo Beall, Director of Education and Society for the British Council, urged the Government to take immediate action to secure future university research or face irreversible damage to the country’s reputation. Meanwhile, representatives from the University and College Union, the European Erasmus student exchange scheme, Universities UK and London Economics said that EU students and staff living and working in Britain must be given assurances about their future.
Spain’s foreign minister has urged his EU partners to begin talks with Britain as soon as possible and said that the bloc has no plans to ‘punish’ the UK. Alfonso Dastis said that the Spanish government was sympathetic to several key British demands, especially Downing Street’s call for the EU to be sympathetic to negotiating a trade deal simultaneously with talks about separation. Mr Dastis also said that he would like to see a transitional arrangement for Britain’s departure to ensure the country did not face the cliff edge of a disorderly exit two years after the start of negotiations. He added: “We don’t see this as a battle in which one side has to come out as the victor and the other as the vanquished. I don’t see any intention to be punitive.”
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