House of Commons passes Brexit Bill


British Prime Minister Theresa May could clear the final hurdle standing between her and the start of Brexit negotiations on Monday when lawmakers will thrash out the final wording of a bill giving her the power to start the European Union exit process.

Members of Parliament on Monday night in the elected chamber rejected both amendments to the Brexit bill put forward last week in the House of Lords, Xinhua news agency reported.

MPs voted down the first amendment, committing the government to guaranteeing the rights of European Union nationals, by a majority of 48 - which means the government managed to increase its majority of 42 from the first vote.

The House of Lords made two amendments to the Bill, firstly introducing a "meaningful" vote on the final deal with Brussels.

Mrs May said the legislation would receive royal assent within the "coming days", allowing her to keep to her promise of starting the Brexit process by the end of March.

Brexit minister David Davis said it was in "everybody's interests that we get a good outcome", but said the government was "planning for the contingency, all the various outcomes".

European council president Donald Tusk has lashed out at Theresa May for "intimidation" tactics as tensions escalate ahead of crucial Brexit talks.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her concerns about May's plan to pull Britain out of Europe's single market, in order to cut immigration, had been met with a "brick wall of intransigence".

Earlier, the government had comfortably won votes on the issues in the Commons, with only a handful of Tory MPs rebelling.

The bill gives May the legal authority to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and trigger Brexit talks, which she is expected to do at the end of March.

"A choice of whether to follow the United Kingdom to a hard Brexit or to become an independent country, able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the United Kingdom and our own relationship with Europe", she said in Edinburgh.

European Union leaders have planned a follow-up meeting on April 6, "provided that the prime minister moves Article 50, I think by March 15th", Kenny said.

Ministers are hopeful the Commons will overturn the Lords amendments in a vote on Monday afternoon, although some europhile Conservative MPs may rebel.

A full deal for the future relationship will probably take years - up to seven years according to Tusk, or even a decade, according to reported comments by Britain's former ambassador to the EU.

He said there were potential benefits to leaving the negotiations without a deal, including the freedom to reduce tariff barriers with non-EU states.



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