Key Brexit leg­is­la­tion steered through first Com­mons test

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - richard Wheeler, Jon vale and elizabeth arnold

Min­is­ters steered key Brexit leg­is­la­tion through its first Com­mons test amid grow­ing Tory un­rest over set­ting an exit date in law.

The Gov­ern­ment comfortably nav­i­gated two votes on the Euro­pean Union (With­drawal) Bill, which seeks to trans­fer Euro­pean law into Bri­tish law, dur­ing the first group of amend­ments.

But de­bate fo­cused on the Gov­ern­ment’s de­sire to in­clude an exit date in the Bill of 11pm on March 29 2019, with Tory back­benchers lin­ing up to voice con­cerns.

For­mer chan­cel­lor Ken Clarke la­belled the pro­posal “ridicu­lous and un­nec­es­sary”, adding: “It could be pos­i­tively harm­ful to the na­tional in­ter­est.”

Tory for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral Do­minic Grieve told MPS no amount of “arm twist­ing” would make him vote for the amend­ment, which was de­bated

but will not be voted upon un­til next month at the ear­li­est.

Tory tem­pers frayed as de­bate neared the end of its fourth hour af­ter Bernard Jenkin (Har­wich and North Es­sex) said: “Any MPS who voted for Ar­ti­cle 50 but then do not want to fix the date are open to the charge that they don’t want us to leave the Euro­pean Union.”

Labour MP Frank Field with­drew his amend­ment which sought to fix the Brexit date on March 30 2019 – an hour later than the Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal, in or­der to en­sure that it matched Bri­tish time rather than Euro­pean time.

A Plaid Cymru amend­ment ask­ing for the de­volved leg­is­la­tures to be re­quired to grant con­sent to al­low the Prime Min­is­ter to re­peal the Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ties Act 1972 was de­feated by 318 votes to 52, ma­jor­ity 266.

MPS later voted by 318 votes to 68, ma­jor­ity 250, that clause one – to re­peal the Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ties Act 1972 – would be in­cluded in the Bill.

“Any MPS who voted for Ar­ti­cle 50 but then do not want to fix the date are open to the charge that they don’t want us to leave the EU. BERNARD JENKIN

Pic­ture: PA.

Nicola Stur­geon char­ac­terised talks with Theresa May as “con­struc­tive and cor­dial”.

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