U.K. govt wins first votes to amend key Brexit bill

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE -

LONDON: Bri­tain’s gov­ern­ment sur­vived the first par­lia­men­tary chal­lenges to its Brexit bill Tues­day evening, as MPs be­gan vot­ing on var­i­ous amend­ments tabled on the land­mark leg­is­la­tion.

Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment de­feated an amend­ment backed by Welsh and Scot­tish law­mak­ers that would have given Bri­tain’s de­volved leg­is­la­tures a veto over any fi­nal with­drawal agree­ment.

It won the vote – the first of many ex­pected in the com­ing days and weeks as law­mak­ers de­bate some of the hun­dreds of amend­ments put for­ward – by a com­fort­able ma­jor­ity.

MPs also voted to keep the open­ing clause of the law, re­peal­ing the 1972 Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ties Act that took Bri­tain into the bloc.

But May’s gov­ern­ment, rocked by a string of scan­dals that forced out two min­is­ters this month and di­vided by Brexit, faces po­ten­tial de­feats on other amend­ments ahead.

Ear­lier, law­mak­ers had their first chance to scru­ti­nize the EU With­drawal Bill, which would for­mally leg­is­late for the end of Bri­tain’s mem­ber­ship and trans­pose four decades of Euro­pean Union leg­is­la­tion into U.K. law.

They fired the open­ing salvos in what is ex­pected to be a fraught par­lia­men­tary bat­tle, with a heated de­bate on the date Bri­tain leaves the EU – and whether to use London or Brus­sels time.

MPs de­bated one of the gov­ern­ment’s own mo­tions – to en­shrine in law the mo­ment Bri­tain leaves the EU as March 29, 2019, at 23:00 GMT in London and mid­night in Brus­sels – but were not vot­ing on the mat­ter Tues­day.

Bri­tain trig­gered the two-year Ar­ti­cle 50 process of leav­ing the EU on March 29 this year, but this can be ex­tended if all 28 EU mem­ber states in­clud­ing Bri­tain agree.

The bill, also known as the Re­peal Bill, is in­tended to en­sure le­gal cer­tainty and avoid a dam­ag­ing “cliff edge” when Bri­tain leaves the bloc. But crit­ics warn it rep­re­sents a power grab by al­low­ing min­is­ters to amend EU laws as they are trans­ferred, while oth­ers see it as a chance to shape May’s Brexit pol­icy.

MPs also de­bated a Labour amend­ment Tues­day – one of al­most 200 pages tabled – to ex­tend the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice into a post-Brexit tran­si­tion pe­riod.

The gov­ern­ment said it wants an im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod of around two years af­ter Brexit, but in­sists Bri­tain will be fully out of the EU by then.

The show­down comes as May, weak­ened by a June snap elec­tion in which she lost her par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity, strug­gles to as­sert her au­thor­ity even over her own Cab­i­net.

She is also un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure from Brus­sels to come up with a fi­nan­cial of­fer to keep ne­go­ti­a­tions on track, with a crunch sum­mit of EU lead­ers loom­ing in mid-De­cem­ber.

A spokes­woman for May’s of­fice said the prime min­is­ter stressed that as pow­ers were repa­tri­ated from Brus­sels back to Bri­tain, a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber would be passed down to the de­volved ad­min­is­tra­tions in Scot­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land. –

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lebanon

© PressReader. All rights reserved.