dglobalnews.com Brexit bill approval overshadowed by Scotland's possible withdrawal from UK
Published: Wed, March 15, 2017
Global Media | By Cecelia Webb

Brexit bill approval overshadowed by Scotland's possible withdrawal from UK

After weeks of bitter wrangling in both Houses, the British Government comfortably fought off two Liberal Democrat bids to again amend the Brexit Bill in the Lords.

"We will not enter the negotiations with our hands tied", Brexit minister David Davis told parliament ahead of the two-hour debate. Lawmakers on Monday are slated to vote on changes sought by the House of Lords - but panned by the government.

Instead she said it would be by the end if this month, adding Royal Assent from Queen Elizabeth would be given in the next few days.

Ms May also warned the SNP it was "not a moment to play politics or create uncertainty" after Nicola Sturgeon launched plans for a fresh referendum on Scottish independence before Britain leaves the EU.

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.

But Mr Davis succeeded in warding off a potential rebellion in the lower chamber, the House of Commons, where Ms May only has a slim majority, from a handful of pro-EU Conservatives who say parliament should be able to prevent the government walking away from negotiations and leaving without a deal.

"At the same time we will also seize the opportunity to forge our own new trade deals and to reach out beyond the borders of Europe to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike".

Former Finnish Prime Minister Alex Stubb, who recently met with Barnier, told the BBC: "Basically what's going to happen is that article 50 is triggered and a few key principles will be agreed - say the principles of finance or the principles for European Union citizens and British citizens in Europe - the big things".

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The prime minister said her timetable of triggering formal negotiations by the end of March remained on track.

The PM said Brexit would "work for the whole of the United Kingdom".

Sinn Fein has been regularly calling for a vote for Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and unite with the Republic of Ireland since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June while most voters in Northern Ireland voted to remain.

He said: "The landing zone for this negotiation is that you come up with the principles of the finances, in the beginning, and then you start the negotiations at the same time on Britain's new relationship with the European Union".

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn accused the government of being "complacent".

Pressed on the issue on Monday, a Downing Street spokesman said that Mrs May "shared [the ministers'] view that a bad deal would be worse than no deal".

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Labour would be supporting the amendments.

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