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British MPs approve bill to trigger Brexit, reject guarantees for EU nationals

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-03-14

British MPs on Monday approved a bill that will allow Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Brexit and rejected two amendments put forward by the House of Lords, including one that would have protected EU citizens residing in Britain.

The upper house Lords tried unsuccessfully to include amendments to protect the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and to give parliament a larger say on the final outcome of EU exit negotiations. But members of the lower house voted by 335 to 287 to reject the condition on EU nationals and by 331 to 286 to reject giving parliament a greater say on the final deal.

The bill returned to the Lords, in a process known as parliamentary ping pong. Faced with the decision of the elected Commons, the unelected Lords backed down and approved it without amendments, despite an attempt by the Liberal Democrats to re-introduce the conditions.

Labour peer Dianne Hayter, who proposed the amendment on EU citizens, said the Lords had done their best, but "our view has been rejected in the elected House of Commons, and it is clear the government is not for turning".

The bill now will be sent to the Queen for symbolic approval, which could be granted as early as Tuesday morning.

May would then be able to begin the two-year negotiation period as set out in Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.

"We are now on the threshold of the most important negotiation for our country in a generation," Brexit minister David Davis said in a statement. "So we will trigger Article 50 by the end of this month as planned and deliver an outcome that works in the interests of the whole of the UK."

Scottish leader calls for new independence referendum

However, the government's satisfaction at victory in Parliament was tempered by the prospect of an independence vote that threatens the 300-year old political union between England and Scotland.

Earlier on Monday, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she will seek the authority to hold a new independence referendum in the next two years because Britain is dragging Scotland out of the European Union against its will.

Sturgeon said that she would move quickly to give voters a new chance to leave the United Kingdom because Scotland was being forced into a "hard Brexit". While Britons overall voted to leave the EU, Scottish voters backed remaining by 62 to 38 percent

Scotland must not be "taken down a path that we do not want to go down without a choice", Sturgeon said.

In a 2014 referendum, Scottish voters rejected independence by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent. But Sturgeon said the UK's decision to leave the EU had brought about a "material change of circumstances".

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS and AP)

Date created : 2017-03-13

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