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Brexit: British Parliament debates withdrawal bill

MPs have proposed at least 186 pages of amendments to the controversial legislation. The debates are set to be a hard test for Prime Minister Theresa Mays fragile government.

The British Parliament on Tuesday started debating the controversial "EU Withdrawal Bill" that is set to test Prime Minister Theresa Mays increasingly fragile coalition government.

The bill – also known as the "Repeal Bill" – will end Britains membership of the European Union (EU) and import decades of EU law into British law.

According to the government, the bill will help businesses by giving them legal certainty after Britain leaves the union in March 2019.

Power struggle

But MPs in the opposition Labour Party and some members of Mays own Conservative Party have warned that the government will use the legislation to reduce MPs say over ministers actions and the terms of Brexit as whole.

They will try and introduce 186 pages of amendments to water down the bill in the next few weeks.

These include text that would weaken the governments ability to dictate how EU law is transferred into British law and provisions to make sure Britain keeps certain EU labor and environmental standards.

Labour MPs have also said they will try to get a parliamentary vote on an amendment that would maintain the status quo for a transition period after Brexit.

For its part, the government wants to write in a formal leaving date, a move some lawmakers have criticized for making the timeline of Brexit inflexible. 

Mays weakness

Successful attempts by Parliament to amend the Withdrawal Bill will challenge May, who is already politically weak after losing her partys parliamentary majority in a snap election in June. In the last few weeks, she has also lost two senior ministers in separate scandals.

The British weekly Sunday Times newspaper has reported that up to 40 Conservative MPs would vote to oust May in a no-confidence vote. Mays government is also negotiating a separate exit deal with the EU in Brussels. Little progress has been made after six rounds of talks as both sides continue to disagree on how much London owes the EU for exiting the bloc

. On Monday, Brexit Minister David Davis said that Parliament would get to vote on any final deal in what appeared to be a bow to parliamentary pressure. Read more: Brexit: UK Parliament to vote on final deal

amp/xx (AFP, Reuters)
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