World Bulletin / News Desk
The second reading of the bill was opened with remarks from David Davis, the minister responsible for Brexit. Lawmakers will debate the legislation for the next two days.
“It is simply about parliament empowering the government to implement a decision already made, a point of no return already past,” David said.
Davis said the legislation, simply called the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, will be voted on to give Prime Minister Theresa May the power to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
“The core of this bill lies at the very simple question: ‘Do we trust the people or not?’”, Davis asked lawmakers and said parliament should “honor the people’s decision” of the 23 June 2016 referendum.
“This is the most straightforward possible bill necessary to enact the referendum result,” he said.
Davis's opposition Labour party counterpart, Sir Keir Starmer, said the “prime minister should not be blocked” from triggering the formal process of negotiations to exit the bloc.
However, he added that the bill “does not give the prime minister a blank check” and urged the government to take a “unilateral” step to bring clarity to the status of EU nationals living in the U.K. before Brexit negotiations started.
The bill was presented to parliament last week, following a U.K. Supreme Court decision which said the government must seek parliament’s approval before triggering Article 50.
British voters decided to leave the 28-member bloc in a referendum held last June.
Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted she will trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017.