Britain’s House of Commons begins debating Article 50 trigger bill

DW – January 31, 2017

The bill grants Prime Minister Theresa May the power to begin Brexit negotiations. Opposition strategies remain divided on whether to oppose the bill outright or seek to amend it so as to safeguard certain conditions.

As parliamentary lawmakers took their seats in Westminster on Tuesday to being debating the draft bill, Brexit Secretary David Davis reminded the assembly that the proposed legislation was not an opportunity to reconsider whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union (EU).

“It is simply about parliament empowering the government to implement a decision already made [in the referendum], a point of no return already passed,” Davis said in his opening remarks on the first of two days designated to initial debates.

May’s government was forced to introduce the short draft legislation, entitled the “European Union Notification of Withdrawal Bill,” after the British Supreme Court ruled that power to trigger Great Britain’s exit from the 28-member state bloc lay with parliament and not with the Prime Minister.

The executive branch insisted that despite the additional step of needing to secure parliamentary approval, it would still trigger Article 50 by the deadline previously announced by May of March 31.