The UK government has been accused of treating parliament with "contempt" after the timetable for its Article 50 bill was unveiled to MPs on Thursday morning (26 January).
The legislation to start Brexit contains just 130 words and MPs are given just five days to debate it - and try to amend it
House of Commons leader David Lidington faced numerous objections from MPs for giving them just days to debate the draft legislation.
The EU Notification of Withdrawal bill will be tabled before parliament this afternoon, with a second reading debate scheduled for Tuesday 31 January and Wednesday 1 February.
A further three days of debate will be held from Monday 6 February, including the draft law going through its third reading and committee stage, with a final vote being taken on Wednesday 8 February.
The bill will then go up to the House of Lords, where it could face delays. Former Labour minister Ben Bradshaw, who campaigned for Remain at the EU referendum, urged MPs to vote the draft legislation down.
"I would hope that every opposition party in the House and every member who cares about parliamentary democracy will vote against this contempt of parliament," he said.
But Lidington hit back by pointing out that Labour had backed the EU Referendum Act 2015 and MPs had voted 461 to 89 in support of Theresa May's end of March timetable.
"I would simply say... that his party supported the referendum bill and his party supported the timetable of triggering Article 50 by the end of March and the bill is designed to make sure that those objectives are met," the senior Conservative said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised not to block the UK's exit from the EU, but he plans to table an amendment to the Article 50 bill.
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
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
The development comes after the government lost a landmark case at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The top judges ruled eight to three that MPs and peers should have a vote on invoking Article 50, the mechanism to split from the EU.
May has also promised to publish a white paper on her Brexit plans following increased pressure from Labour and some Conservative MPs, including former minister Nicky Morgan and Anna Soubry, on the issue.
Brexit Secretary David Davis today failed to rule out a "cut and paste" style document from May's Lancaster House speech, which saw the prime minister unveil her 12-point Brexit plan on 12 January.
"The prime minister's speech, one of the clearest expositions of international policy I've heard in many, many years, answered all of the questions that the opposition and the Brexit committee raised, other than those that would actively undermine our negotiating position," Davis told MPs.
"The opposition put up a motion which actually said 'we would not undermine our negotiating position'. It's quite right that they should expect us to obey the rules of the House, but they should do so too."
- Government will provide certainty and clarity to politicians and businesses
- UK will 'control our own laws' by quitting the European Court of Justice
- Strengthen the 'precious union' between England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland
- There will be no 'hard border' between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
- UK will 'control' EU immigration, while recruiting the 'brightest and the best' from around the world
- Government will seek a reciprocal residency rights deal for EU and UK workers "as soon as possible"
- To protect workers' rights
- Ministers will seek a 'bold' and 'comprehensive' free trade agreement with the EU
- UK will seek a customs agreement so that it can broker its own trade deals with non-EU nations
- Maintain European science and innovation ties in bid to keep the UK a 'world leader'
- UK will continue to work with the EU to combat the threat of terrorism
- Ministers will seek to avoid a 'cliff edge' and seek a smooth split from the EU