Published: Thu, January 18, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

MPs back Brexit legislation, stiffer tests yet to come

MPs back Brexit legislation, stiffer tests yet to come

The mammoth EU (Withdrawal) Bill to put Brexit into effect finally cleared the House of Commons last night after another marathon debate.

Despite not voting against the bill, Conservative MPs raised a number of objections to the government's Brexit policy.

But the bill's passage through the House of Lords in the coming weeks could be far harder because the upper chamber is dominated by the pro-EU opposition.

He said Labour had "repeatedly" pointed out "six serious defects in the Bill", and said: "But we have been talking to a brick wall".

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the Bill was essential for "preparing the country for the historic milestone" of withdrawing from the EU.

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis said the bill was the "single most important step towards guaranteeing legal continuity on day one outside the EU", urging Labour to back it or "vote for chaos". Amnesty said the Government's amendments - which seek to head off that opposition by appearing to limit powers to a list of situations in which this power can be used - was utterly inadequate as a means of addressing concerns because loopholes and uncertainties remain.

Holyrood constitution convener Bruce Crawford said it was "vital" changes were made to protect devolution.

Mr Jones has previously claimed clause 11 of the bill as it now stands will result in powers over devolved areas such as the environment now held by Europe to be handed back to Westminster once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, rather than straight to the relevant devolved governments.

However, it is thought the legislation is likely to return to the House of Commons after possible amendments. SNP lawmaker Ian Blackford warned the government it could trigger a "constitutional crisis" with its plans, which have also drawn anger from Wales.

Britain and the EU reached preliminary agreement before Christmas on the key separation issues - Britain's financial settlement after Brexit, EU expatriate rights and the future of the Irish border. Britain wants a new trade agreement to replace its membership of the EU's single market and customs union, although critics warn it has unrealistic expectations.

European Council President Donald Tusk responded that the EU's "hearts were still open" if Britain changed its mind, a sentiment echoed by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

His comments followed a remark by leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage that he might be open to a second referendum in Britain on European Union membership, to silence critics. "If the British wish to find another way than Brexit, we are then ready to talk about it".

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