British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to trigger Brexit this week by formally notifying the European Union of Britain’s intention to leave the bloc, sending her country into uncharted waters.
The legislation empowering May to put Britain on a course that no EU member state has ever taken returns to parliament for its final stages on Monday as European capitals prepare for mammoth negotiations.
The prime minister promised months ago to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, starting the two-year withdrawal process, by the end of March.
Last week she expressed her impatience, telling reporters at a Brussels summit: “Our European partners have made clear to me that they want to get on with the negotiations, and so do I.” Once May has notified the EU of her decision by letter, the other 27 EU leaders will take some 48 hours to issue their first draft proposal for the negotiations, but talks are not actually expected to begin for months as both sides finalise strategies.
May was forced to introduce the two-clause bill empowering her to trigger Article 50 after the Supreme Court ruled in January that she must seek parliament’s approval to
The bill was held up earlier this month by amendments passed in the unelected House of Lords, demanding guarantees for EU nationals’ rights and a parliamentary vote on the final withdrawal deal.
MPs in the elected lower House of Commons, where May has a majority, overwhelmingly supported the bill in its first stage last month.
Ministers are hopeful the Commons will overturn the Lords amendments in a vote on Monday, although some europhile Conservative MPs may rebel.
The bill would then return to the Lords later that evening for final approval, where further opposition is possible, but unlikely. Adding to the day of drama, anti-austerity and pro-immigration campaigners are set to protest outside parliament later on Monday to urge MPs to guarantee the status of the three million EU nationals living in Britain.
A majority in Scotland voted for Britain to stay in the EU, but across the whole kingdom 52 percent voted to leave.
LONDON AFP, 14th MARCH, 2017