Friday 22 September 2017

May warns Tory rebels over threat to vote on Brexit changes

UK Prime Minister Theresa May meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Downing Street yesterday to discuss post-Brexit trade. Photo: Peter Nicholls/PA Wire
UK Prime Minister Theresa May meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Downing Street yesterday to discuss post-Brexit trade. Photo: Peter Nicholls/PA Wire

Arj Singh

Theresa May has warned rebel Conservative MPs they would be "obstructing" the will of the people if they vote with Labour and the SNP to change the Brexit Bill.

The British prime minister said the House of Commons had already clearly voted in support of the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which will allow her to trigger Article 50 to begin the formal exit process.

The bill is returning to the Commons this week for a further three days of debate during committee stage, giving MPs the chance to amend the legislation.

Mrs May warned pro-Remain Tories against backing amendments seeking to ensure Parliament gets a say on the "endgame" if Brexit negotiations collapse without a deal.

The PM has made clear she will walk away from talks if no deal can be reached, but potential rebels on her backbenches are worried about quitting the EU without an agreement, with potentially serious consequences for the economy.

In a Commons statement on last week's informal EU summit in Malta, Mrs May warned them: "Our European partners now want to get on with the negotiations, so do I, and so does this House, which last week voted by a majority of 384 in support of the Government triggering Article 50.

"There are, of course, further stages for the Bill in committee and in the Lords and it is right that this process should be completed properly.

"But the message is clear to all - this House has spoken and now is not the time to obstruct the democratically expressed wishes of the British people.

"It is time to get on with leaving the European Union and building an independent, self-governing, global Britain."

Meanwhile, Mrs May has shot down calls to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain before Brexit negotiations start.

The UK government has come under pressure to make the pledge before Article 50 is triggered and formal talks begin.

But the prime minister dismissed the proposal as "not the right way forward" and said negotiating a deal that would guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and UK nationals in Europe, would be a priority "as soon as the negotiations begin".

Irish Independent

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