UK government takes first step towards triggering Brexit

UK government takes first step towards triggering Brexit
British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis takes a question from MPs.
PHOTO: AFP

LONDON - Brexit minister David Davis began the process of passing a law that enables the government to trigger Britain's exit from the European Union, saying on Thursday he expected the legislation to pass quickly.

Earlier this week, Britain's top court ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May must seek parliamentary approval to trigger Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, rejecting the government's argument that it could do so unilaterally.

The ruling is not expected to derail May's plans to invoke Article 50 by the end of March, which will start two years of complex negotiations with the EU on the terms of Britain's exit and its new trading arrangements. But it may force the government to reveal more of its negotiating position.

Davis began seeking parliamentary approval by publishing legislation and introducing it to parliament - the first stages in the normal lawmaking process, which will see both chambers of parliament scrutinise the bill.

"The British people have made the decision to leave the EU and this government is determined to get on with the job of delivering it," Davis said in a statement. "I trust that parliament, which backed the referendum by six to one, will respect the decision taken by the British people and pass the legislation quickly."

The full text of the bill, which is less than 150 words long, can be viewed here: Opposition parties have said they will try to amend the legislation to make the government reveal more details of its Brexit plans.

The bill will now be debated for two days next week, on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, the government said. It is then expected to progress to a further debate stage, lasting three days from Feb. 6 to Feb. 8.

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