Thu, May 16, 2019 - Page 7 News List

British government to publish draft EU exit bill next month

AFP, LONDON

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is to publish draft legislation in the first week of next month that would allow Brexit to proceed if approved by parliament, a Downing Street spokesman announced on Tuesday.

The statement came after talks between May and opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on a possible compromise that would end a deadlock on Brexit in parliament.

May met with Corbyn “to make clear our determination to bring the talks to a conclusion and deliver on the referendum result to leave the EU,” the spokesman said.

“We will therefore be bringing forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week beginning June 3,” he added, referring to a draft law based on the divorce deal agreed with EU leaders.

May was seeking a “stable majority in parliament that will ensure the safe passage of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and the UK’s swift exit from the EU,” the spokesman said.

Over the past six weeks, ministers and their Labour counterparts have been discussing how parliament might accept the agreement May struck with the EU last year.

Progress has been painfully slow and there have been growing calls in May’s Conservative Party to abandon the process.

However, her ministers on Tuesday discussed at a Cabinet meeting “the compromises which the government was prepared to consider” and agreed to keep talking, the spokesman said.

They also said it was “imperative” that any exit plan be approved by parliament before lawmakers go on their summer vacation, which normally begins at the end of July.

“What she [May] is working to do is to get a deal passed as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.

Lawmakers have already rejected May’s Brexit deal three times.

She last month turned to Labour in the hope of finding a way through, but the party is insisting on a close trading relationship with the EU that many Conservative lawmakers reject.

A Labour spokesperson said that Corbyn had raised “concerns about the prime minister’s ability to deliver on any compromise agreement.”

“He raised doubts over the credibility of government commitments,” the Labour spokesperson said, following statements by Conservative lawmakers seeking to replace May.

After twice delaying Brexit, Britain is to reluctantly take part in European Parliament elections on Thursday next week, almost three years after the referendum vote to leave the bloc.

The government had hoped to get the London parliament’s agreement for the divorce deal in the coming weeks so British members of the European Parliament would never have to take their seats.

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