Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Brexit: MPs wave through EU Withdrawal Bill in crucial parliament vote

Brexit: MPs wave through EU Withdrawal Bill in crucial parliament vote

The Bill changes provisions in the 1972 European Communities Act, under which the United Kingdom merged with the then European Economic Community.

There will be three votes at the close of debate at midnight on Monday night - on Labour's "reasoned amendment", on the main second reading motion, and on the programme motion that limits the committee stage to 64 hours over eight days.

"This is a power grab by the Government at the expense of our democratically elected Parliament".

He said everyone who believes in devolution should be "concerned" about the bill, which is created to transpose European Union law into British law so the same rules apply on the day of Brexit as the day before.

To avoid the chaos of having years of European Union laws just disappear, the Withdrawal Bill would convert them into British law when Brexit happens.

The prime minister called it a "historic decision to back the will of the British people" and said the vote would give clarity and certainty through the Brexit process.

Flint, who will abstain at second reading, agreed that changes to the bill were needed to ensure there was no "ministerial power grab".

The vote went 326 to 290 in favour of the Government, with seven Labour MPs defying the party whip.

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He added: "Our position is we'll oppose the bill tonight because we want parliamentary scrutiny, we want democratic accountability of an elected government in how it reacts to the results of the referendum and that's why we're voting the way we are tonight and I urge all colleagues to do the same".

"It would be ministers who decided our new trade arrangements, customs arrangements and immigration rules, any deal on citizens' rights and much else", Labor Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer wrote in the Sunday Times newspaper.

It meant "we can move on with negotiations with solid foundations", she said.

The Bill has also come under fire for its ability to "re-reserve" powers in now devolved areas for powers returning from the European Union, and for its lack of commitment to maintaining equalities and human rights protections.

Long-time Brexit campaigner Edward Leigh called for the government to be "generous" and make amendments to the bill but played down fears that the government would abuse so-called Henry VIII powers. It leaves rights unprotected, it silences Parliament on key decisions and undermines the devolution settlement.

"And now, the British Government sees fit to introduce legislation that will disempower devolved administrations, centralising power with a cabinet of Brexiteers, free from scrutiny or accountability".

Labour, which denounced the "vague offers" of concessions, mostly voted against the bill.

It now moves on to its next parliamentary stage where opposition MPs are expected to take a strong stance against it.

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