Everything you need to know about the UK Brexit Bill

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By Catherine Hardy  with PA
Everything you need to know about the UK Brexit Bill

  • MPs begin debating Bill
  • Vote due on Wednesday evening
  • Committee stage next week
  • Article 50 to be triggered March 31

MPs in the UK have begun debating the bill to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

This would give Theresa May the go-ahead to launch forma
l negotiations for Britain to leave the EU.

How long will this take?

Two days have been set aside for the second reading debate of the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

A vote is scheduled for Wednesday evening.

Get the details of the parliamentary process for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2016-17 here

Will this be a straightforward process?

Insiders are expecting the Bill to clear its first parliamentary hurdle fairly easily.

The opposition Labour Party has already said it will not block the
triggering of Article 50, the act which will trigger the start of the two-year Brexit process.

So the opposition is entirely behind the Bill, then?

Not entirely, no.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is trying to contain a revolt by some Labour MPs.

The majority voted against Brexit in last June’s referendum.

Corbyn has imposed what is known as a three-line whip, ordering them to vote for the Bill at its second reading.

Shadow ministers Jo Stevens and Tulip Siddiq have already quit in protest.

Other front benchers – particularly those representing
constituencies which voted for Remain – say they will oppose the Bill, even if it costs them their jobs.

The SNP and the Liberal Democrats are not backing the Bill.

Committee stage – “The real parliamentary battle”

This first reading should be fairly smooth for the Bill.

The road is likely to get more rocky next week, when it returns to the Commons for its committee stage.

This is where the opposition parties will try to push through a
series of amendments.

The Government has kept the Bill to two tightly-drawn clauses in a bid to limit the scope for them to be introduced.

I thought the UK had already voted to leave the EU. Why is this happening?”

Ministers were forced to table legislation after the Supreme Court
upheld an earlier ruling that the Government must obtain the approval of Parliament before it can begin negotiating Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

They are insisting the Bill will complete its passage through
both houses of Parliament in time for the Prime Minister to meet her deadline of March 31 to trigger Article 50.

*What they are saying *

“It (the Bill) is simply about implementing a decision already made, a point of no return already passed. We asked the people of the UK if they wanted to leave the EU: they decided they did,” Brexit Secretary David Davis is piloting the Bill through the Commons.