British MPs begin debating crucial Brexit bill
British lawmakers today began debating a crucial Bill that will end the supremacy of European Union (EU) law and replace them with domestic statute on the day Britain leaves the economic bloc.
The EU (Withdrawal) Bill will convert all existing EU laws, dating back over 40 years, into UK law in time for Brexit by March 2019.
Opening the debate in the House of Commons alongside Prime Minister Theresa May, the UK's minister for exiting the EU David Davis said the bill was "the next step in the historic process of honouring that decision" made in the EU referendum and will ensure that "on the day we leave, businesses know where they stand".
He told MPs: "I stand ready to listen to those who offer improvements to the bill in the spirit of preparing our statute book for withdrawal from the European Union." He urged all parties to work with the government "in the spirit of collaboration", rejecting Opposition claims that he was attempting to change laws without proper Parliamentary scrutiny.
"It is only what is necessary for a smooth exit and to provide stability," he said.
However, the passage of the Bill is expected to prove a tumultuous task for May as she faces a cross-party rebellion.
The Opposition Labour party has refused to vote for the Bill in its current form, describing it as a "power grab" on the part of the Conservative party-led government by using so-called Henry VIII powers to make laws by "decree".
May's own Tory MPs have been unifying behind a plan for a cross-party committee of peers and MPs to monitor such powers going forward.
But with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Tories are expected to get the Bill through its parliamentary hurdle, with some Conservative backbenchers claiming they reserve the right to amend and improve it at a later stage.
While overturning the 1972 European Communities Act, which took the UK into the then European Economic Community, the new legislation will ensure all direct EU laws applying to the UK will be transferred onto the statute book and continue to have legal force after the UK's withdrawal.
MPs are considering the general principles of the bill at its Second Reading which started today, with the first votes expected by Monday.
A Labour party spokesperson said: "In this bill, the government is making a power grab to change a whole set of legislation and rules without recourse to Parliament.
"That ranges from the date of Brexit to the amount of money paid to the EU to employment and social legislation and environmental legislation. Under the proposals, the Brexit secretary can make these changes at the stroke of a pen. That is completely undemocratic."
The UK government has claimed up to 1,000 statutory instruments will be needed to modify EU laws that become obsolete or do not operate as they should after Brexit and any corrections will be largely technical in nature.
The debate in Parliament came as Britain came under fresh criticism from the EU side on the ongoing negotiation process for Brexit.
EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the UK appears to be going backwards on agreeing a Brexit financial settlement.
"It seems to be backtracking on the original commitment to honour its past commitments. There is a problem of confidence here," he said.
On the continued disagreement over the so-called divorce bill, he said: "You cannot have 27 countries paying for commitments made by 28."
European leaders will be asked to determine if the UK has made sufficient progress on the Brexit divorce issues at a European Council summit scheduled for October to be able to move the talks on to the future trade relationship between the UK and the EU.
The process is set on a two-year countdown since Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty relating to leaving the EU was invoked by Prime Minister May in March following a referendum in favour of Brexit in June 2016.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
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