February 2, 2023
UK parliament rejects Lords amendments to Brexit bill
MPs have rejected the House of Lords’ amendments to the Brexit bill, meaning Britain could be just a day away from officially launching talks to leave the European Union.

© Klaus Ohlenschläger

The House of Commons voted on the bill’s proposed changes on Monday evening.

The Lords wanted the rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK after Brexit to be protected and for Parliament to have a vote on any deal Prime Minister Theresa May brings forward.

The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was passed unamended despite a handful of Tory rebels demanding further verbal assurances that Parliament will have a greater role in determining the country’s future.

Brexit secretary David Davis urged MPs to vote against the amendments. He insisted the government “will not do anything that will undermine the rights of EU citizens in Britain.”

Among those asking for concessions were ex-Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. She has raised concerns about what sort of say MPs would have if May returns from two years of EU negotiations recommending no trade deal, which would see the UK default to standard World Trade Organization (WTO) arrangements.

© Andrew Parsons

“MPs and peers have voted overwhelmingly to allow the overall Article 50 process to go through. But yes, we do think that Parliament should have a say, should have an input on the final deal, whatever negotiations conclude,” she told the BBC.

Labour also urged May to consider the “really important” Lords amendments, saying EU citizens have been “left in limbo” waiting to hear if they will have the right to stay.

The bill will now move back to the House of Lords, where peers are likely to accept it without their amendments later on Monday night. May will then have the power to trigger Article 50 as early as Tuesday, once it has received royal assent.

The Queen’s permission, known as royal assent, is the Crown’s symbolic seal of approval of a Bill to become an Act of Parliament, and thus law. It is given either in person or through commissioners of the Crown, and has not been withheld since 1707.

May is to give a statement in the Commons on Tuesday about last week’s summit of the European Council, providing an opportunity to make the announcement.

On Monday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed to hold a second independence referendum. The majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU.

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