- Both Houses of Parliament are set to pass the Brexit bill unamended on Monday.
- Government whips believe backbench rebellion has been quashed.
- Scottish first minister poised to launch second independence referendum.
LONDON — Britain is poised to begin its departure from the European Union as early as Tuesday after both Houses of Parliament look set to pass the Brexit bill.
Theresa May is likely to be given the power to trigger Article 50 — the two year process by which the UK will leave the EU — on Monday evening when MPs vote on whether to pass the European Union (notification of withdrawal) bill.
The Lords are then also likely to accept the bill, meaning May will have the power to trigger Article 50 as early as tomorrow, once it has received Royal Assent.
The bill is highly likely to pass without any amendments, meaning that May’s plans to pursue a “hard Brexit” outside of the Single Market and the Customs Union, will proceed.
As a result, the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is also likely to launch a second independence referendum, with an announcement expected as early as this week.
Brexit bill amendments
The Commons will today debate whether to accept two House of Lords amendments to the bill, seeking to shape May’s negotiation plans.
Peers last week introduced two amendments, one of which would guarantee the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK after Brexit and the other which would guarantee a “meaningful vote” on the May’s final Brexit deal.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will tonight lead an “emergency demonstration” alongside migrant rights’ organisations, to call on the government to accept their amendment guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals in the UK.
The government is also under pressure to set out its plans for the event of Britain leaving the EU without a preferential trade deal.
The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee select committee on Sunday accused the government of a “dereliction of duty” for failing to prepare for such an outcome.
Businesses groups have also warned that crashing out of the EU on World Trade Organisation terms would open a “Pandora’s Box” of negative economic outcomes.
However, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson dismissed the concerns about a no-deal Brexit, saying that such an outcome would not be “apocalyptic.”
“I think that actually, as it happens, we would be perfectly ok if we weren’t able to get an agreement,” he said.
“I don’t think that the consequences of no deal are by any means as apocalyptic as some people like to pretend.”
Speaking on Sunday, trade secretary Liam Fox told Sky News that: “not having a deal of course would be bad.”
“But it’s not just bad for the UK, it’s bad for Europe as a whole.”
Despite the row, government whips are confident that a Conservative backbench rebellion on the latter amendment has been quashed, meaning that MPs are set to reject both amendments when it returns to the Commons today.
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