Parliament Clears the Way for the PM to Trigger Article 50

Last night, 13th March, the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was passed through both Houses of Parliament without amendments.  Once the Royal Assent has been given, the Prime Minister has the power to trigger Article 50 and formally begin the negotiation and withdrawal process from the EU.

Today the Prime Minister made a statement to the House of Commons confirming that Royal Assent will be received in the coming days.  The Rt Hon Theresa May MP reconfirmed that Britain will take a leading role in Europe long after we have left the EU.  The Prime Minister also emphasised the UK’s commitment to NATO and highlighted our working relationship with Donald Tusk, the newly re-elected President of the European Council.

Afterwards Mr Turner said:

“This is a great success for everyone who believes in a global UK, which will be stronger outside the EU.  The House of Lords recognised their role as a revising chamber, and rightly drew back from acting as a roadblock against the will of the British people.

“Downing Street has said that they will keep to the initial time frame to trigger Article 50 by the end of the month.  This is just the beginning of a two year period of negotiations.  The Government has given Members of Parliament assurances that we will have a role in the Brexit process.  Similarly, the Prime Minister has said that the Government will try to reach an agreement on EU citizens’ rights, as well as rights of UK citizens in the EU, at the earliest possible opportunity during the negotiations. 

“The Prime Minister has made it clear she is going to negotiate and deliver a deal that works in the interest for the whole of the UK, this includes Scotland and working with the Scottish Government.  It is disappointing, albeit not surprising, that the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon have decided to keep looking backwards, rather than looking forward and governing for Scotland.”

The Bill reached the so called ping-pong stage last night when it returned to the House of Commons  from the Lords and Members of Parliament voted to reject the Lords’ amendments.  The House of Lords then discussed changing the amendments, but voted against it in both cases and hence the Bill completed its journey.  The two amendments defeated last night were to unilaterally guarantee EU-citizens’ rights in the UK and to legislate to give Parliament a vote (effectively a possible veto) on the final agreements between the UK and the EU.


Last night’s votes in the House of Commons

  • Protect the rights of EU nationals living in the UK: motion to disagree

For: 335 Against: 287

  • Give Parliament a ‘meaningful vote’ on the Brexit deal: motion to disagree

For: 331 Against: 286

Last night’s votes in the House of Lords

  • Protect the rights of EU nationals living in the UK

For: 135 Against: 274

  • Give Parliament a ‘meaningful vote’ on the Brexit deal
  • For: 118 Against: 274