MPs should accept UK voters' decision to split from the EU and recognise the "point of no return has passed", according to David Davis. The Brexit secretary issued the statement ahead of the formal debate on the government's Article 50 bill in parliament on Tuesday (31 January).
The draft legislation is required to trigger the UK's divorce talks with Brussels after the government lost a landmark case at the Supreme Court. The bill enters the House of Commons for its second reading on Tuesday.
"It is not a Bill about whether or not the UK should leave the EU, or how it should do so," Davis said.
"It is simply about implementing a decision already made, a point of no return already passed. We asked the people of the UK if they wanted to leave the EU. They decided they did."
The senior Conservative also stressed that the bill will be "one of many" moments for parliament to scrutinise Brexit.
The government has promised to publish a White Paper outlining Theresa May's negotiating principles and ministers have also announced the Great Repeal Bill, which will immediately enshrine EU law into UK law when Britain breaks from Brussels.
Yet despite Davis' reassurances, opposition politicians have warned of a so-called "hard Brexit" that could see the UK left trading with the EU under World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised not to block Brexit. However, the left-winger has tabled a number of amendments to the Article 50 bill, including an anti-tax haven amendment.
"We respect the will of the British people, but not the will of this Tory government to impose fewer rights at work and worse public services, while the largest corporations pay even less tax," he said.
"Labour will ensure that the British people, through parliament, have genuine accountability and oversight over the Brexit negotiations because no one voted to give Prime Minister Theresa May a free hand over our future."
The vote has arguably caused Corbyn more political difficulties than the government since two shadow cabinet ministers — Tulip Siddiq and Jo Stevens — quit the Labour frontbench to vote against the Article 50 bill.
Other Labour MPs are also expected to defy Corbyn's three-line whip and oppose the draft legislation.
The Article 50 bill
A bill to:
Confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the EU.
Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
1 Power to notify withdrawal from the EU
(1)The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the EU.
(2)This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European 5Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.
2 Short title
This Act may be cited as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017.