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UK: Brexit bill passes first hurdle in parliament

13th Sep 2017
UK: Brexit bill passes first hurdle in parliament

By Inci Gundag

 

LONDON (AA): Britain’s parliament voted early Tuesday to give the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill a second reading, clearing the way for Prime Minister Theresa May to launch negotiations for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.

The bill was backed by 326 lawmakers of the 650-seat House of Commons while 290 MPs voted against it.

May’s Conservative government secured parliamentary approval for the bill thanks to its alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The main opposition Labour Party had strongly voiced its objection to the bill, arguing that its provisions to smooth the transfer of EU laws represent an unacceptable expansion of executive power.

According to May’s government, the bill will allow them to make minor technical changes to ensure a smooth transition process. The opposition voiced concern that ministers would get sweeping powers to make changes to laws during this process by avoiding parliamentary scrutiny.

It will also convert all existing EU laws into UK law, ensuring there are no gaps in legislation for the Brexit process.

The EU Withdrawal Bill now moves on to its next parliamentary stage where opposition MPs are expected to take a strong stance against it.

The British public decided to leave the EU last June.

The U.K. is expected to leave the EU in March 2019 after a 44-year-long membership in the bloc.

[Photo: British Parliament. Photograph: AA]

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