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May determined to stick to her Brexit timetable as she publishes Article 50 bill

MPs will get their first chance to debate the Article 50 bill next Wednesday.

Image: Victoria Jones PA Wire/PA Images

THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT has published a draft law that would authorise Prime Minister Theresa May to begin the procedure for leaving the European Union in an important milestone towards Brexit.

“The British people have made the decision to leave the EU… so today we have introduced a bill in parliament which will allow us to formally trigger Article 50 by the end of March,” said Brexit minister David Davis.

The two clause “European Union Notification of Withdrawal Bill” asks parliament to give May authority to “notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The government said MPs would get their first chance to debate it on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

The government is being forced to go to parliament following a landmark Supreme Court ruling this week that rejected its argument that executive powers allowed it to proceed without prior approval.

Brexit Brexit minister David Davis speaking in the House of Commons Source: Frank Vincini PA Wire

Conservative Prime Minister May has a small majority in the House of Commons and is expected to get the go-ahead from MPs, although opposition parties have said they plan put forward amendments which could slow it down.

House of Commons leader David Lidington told parliament that the bill’s third and final reading in the House of Commons would be on February 8.

The bill’s progress in the House of Lords, the upper chamber, is less certain as the government has no majority there and no control over the timing.

If approved by the House of Lords, the bill would then have to be signed off by Queen Elizabeth II before May can trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty — the formal process for leaving the bloc.

Theresa May had been invited to address the Dáil, with Brexit high on the planned agenda, but refused the offer.

The move was strongly criticised by former deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

© AFP 2017

With reporting from Sean Murray

Read: UK Supreme Court rules Brexit must be approved by Parliament

Read: Explainer: What happens now the UK parliament will have to vote on Brexit?

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