United Kingdom government confident of winning vote on Brexit legislation

PMQs live

PMQs live

Lawmakers are voting on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which aims to convert some 12,000 EU laws and regulations into domestic statute when Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

"But the government's EU Withdrawal bill would allow Conservative ministers to set vital terms on a whim, including of Britain's exit payment, without democratic scrutiny", a Labour spokesperson told CNN on Monday.

Labour MP Caroline Flint, a former minister for Europe, is refusing to vote against the bill despite the three-line whip imposed by her party.

"The British people didn't vote for confusion and neither should Parliament".

Hilary Benn, the senior Labour MP who chairs the House of Commons' Brexit select committee, which is tasked with scrutinizing the work of the Department for Exiting the European Union, calls it the "backbenchers' parliament".

The government has signaled it might yield to MPs' demands to amend the most controversial parts of the bill.
"I have never broken the whip at all but I do believe that in respecting the outcome of the referendum, in respecting what I said to my electors in a general election just a few months ago, it's important that we get on with the job of making sure we can have as smooth an exit from the European Union as possible".

"This is a power grab by the Government at the expense of our democratically elected Parliament".

To vote down the bill, Labour would need to convince EU supporters in the Conservatives to side with them, but some more vocal pro-EU Conservative lawmakers have said they will vote with the government.

A landmark bill paving the way for Brexit is expected to pass its first parliamentary hurdle on Monday night, as some Labour MPs prepared to defy their leader Jeremy Corbyn's orders to vote against it.

The MP for Don Valley continued: "The truth is tonight as we vote I do think the government will get a second reading and then we'll get into the devil in the detail of this bill and there will have to be amendments and we'll have to get on with it. We have seen criticism not only from Labour but from a number of Conservatives who see that this can not be squared with the argument that Brexit is about 'taking back control'".

Critics say ministers are handing themselves sweeping powers to change laws without scrutiny.

A number of votes - including on an amendment from Labour - will take place after midnight.

"I'm concerned that the prime minister is being held hostage by her hardliners", she said.

But analysts have warned that May could face a rebellion in the later stages of the bill, commonly known as the "great repeal bill", from some pro-EU Conservatives in both the Commons and the unelected upper house, the Lords. It would end the session of parliament, we'd probably have to prorogue, and they would have to come back with a new bill.

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