News ID: 200419
Published: 0955 GMT September 12, 2017

UK lawmakers back a key Brexit bill but a fight still looms

UK lawmakers back a key Brexit bill but a fight still looms
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

British lawmakers voted a key Brexit bill past its first big hurdle in Parliament early Tuesday. But many legislators branded the bill a government power grab, and vowed to change it before it becomes law.

After a debate that stretched past midnight, the House of Commons backed the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill by a vote of 326 to 290. That means lawmakers approve the bill in principle, but the government will now face attempts to amend it before a final vote later this year, Time wrote.

A key plank in the Conservative government's Brexit plans, the bill aims to convert thousands of EU laws and regulations into UK domestic laws on the day Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the EU Council headquarters ahead of a European Council meeting on June 22, 2017 in Brussels, Belgium.

LEON NEAL/GETTY

 

Prime Minister Theresa May said the measure provides "certainty and clarity" ahead of the divorce. Brexit Secretary David Davis said that without it, the UK faces "a chaotic exit from the European Union."

But the opposition says it would give the government dangerous new powers to amend laws without parliamentary scrutiny.

Since Britain joined the EU in 1973, thousands of EU laws and regulations have come to operate in the UK, covering everything from environmental protection to employment rules.

Justice Secretary David Lidington told lawmakers that the bill is needed to ensure Britain has "a functioning and coherent statute book and regulatory system the day we leave."

It calls for incorporating all EU laws into UK statutes so they can then be kept, amended or scrapped by Britain's Parliament. The government says that will fulfill the promise of anti-EU campaigners during last year's referendum to "take back control" of the country from Brussels to London.

The government needs to pass the bill to keep its Brexit plans on track. It has been almost 15 months since Britain voted to leave the 28-nation bloc, and nearly six months since the government triggered the two-year countdown to exit.

Since then, negotiations between Britain and the EU have made little progress on key issues including the status of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border and the amount Britain must pay to settle its financial commitments to the bloc.

May's authority took a battering when she called a snap election in June seeking to increase her majority in Parliament and strengthen her negotiating hand. The move backfired when voters stripped the Conservatives of their majority, leaving May reliant on support from a small Northern Ireland party to govern.

RT UK Published on Sep 12, 2017 The moment the House of Commons voted 326 to 290 to approve the Second Reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill.
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