UK parliament passes Brexit Bill and opens way to triggering Article 50

The UK parliament has passed the Brexit Bill, paving the way for the government to trigger Article 50, giving Brussels formal notification that the UK's exit the European Union

14 March 2017, 8:04am
Members of the lower house of parliament voted to throw out amendments to the Bill made by the upper house earlier this month
Members of the lower house of parliament voted to throw out amendments to the Bill made by the upper house earlier this month
British Prime Minister Theresa May cleared the final hurdle standing between her and the start of Brexit negotiations on Monday after parliament passed legislation giving her the power to start the EU exit process.

Members of the lower house of parliament voted to throw out amendments to the Bill made by the upper house earlier this month aimed at guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens in the UK and giving parliament a “meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal.

MPs voted down the amendment on EU nationals’ rights by 335 to 287, a majority of 48, with peers later accepting the decision by 274 to 135. The second amendment on whether to hold a meaningful final vote on any deal after the conclusion of Brexit talks was voted down by 331 to 286, a majority of 45, in the Commons.

Despite an attempt by the Liberal Democrats in the unelected upper chamber, the House of Lords, to re-introduce the conditions, the Lords also went on to approve the legislation unamended late on Monday.

"We are now on the threshold of the most important negotiation for our country in a generation," Brexit minister David Davis said in a statement.

"So we will trigger Article 50 by the end of this month as planned and deliver an outcome that works in the interests of the whole of the UK."

The Bill will now be sent to the queen for symbolic approval which could be granted as early as Tuesday morning, leaving May ready to start a two-year negotiation period, as set out in Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

May's spokesman hinted on Tuesday, however, that she might do so closer to the end of the month.

Her task in negotiating Britain's EU exit was complicated on Monday by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon demanding a new independence referendum, to be held in late 2018 or early 2019, once the Brexit terms are clearer.