Theresa May suffers second Brexit bill defeat

PTI

Theresa May in IndiaUK Prime Minister Theresa May suffered her second Brexit defeat in a week after the Parliaments’s upper house voted to authorise lawmakers to veto the final outcome of her EU talks, putting her under more pressure to meet the March-end deadline to start the withdrawal process.

After a three-hour debate, the House of Lords voted 366 to 268 to back calls for a “meaningful vote” on the final terms of withdrawal from the 28-member European Union.

Peers yesterday amended the legislation that will authorise May to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to leave and pave the way for official Brexit talks to begin.

Ministers said the amendment was “disappointing” and they would seek to overturn the move when the bill returns to the House of Commons, the lower chamber of the parliament.

On March 1, May suffered her first parliamentary defeat over Brexit after the House of Lords voted in favour of an amendment to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK after the country leaves the single market.

The latest defeat has dashed May’s hopes, who was confident of passage of the bill in time to meet her deadline of triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which begins the two-year withdrawal process, by the end of March.

The turnout in the Lords for the vote was the largest since 1831, according to Parliament’s website.

The bill is expected to the Commons return on March 13. May’s Conservative Party has a majority in the lower chamber, but not the Lords. This back-and-forth threatens the Article 50 deadline.

May has previously agreed to give the parliament a vote on her Brexit deal, but on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis. That means if lawmakers dismiss May’s divorce agreement with EU, the UK could be out of the trading bloc without any deal in place.

PTI