Theresa May warns rebels as Brexit talks set to resume

BBC | Published: 12:56, Nov 10,2017


Theresa May has warned she will not ‘tolerate’ any attempt to block Brexit, after setting out the specific hour the UK will leave the EU.

She said that ‘11:00pm GMT on 29 March 2019’ is ‘there in black and white’ in an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

The bill will be scrutinised by MPs next week - but the PM warned against attempts to stop it or slow it down.

May was writing in the Daily Telegraph as a fresh round of Brexit negotiations are due to begin later.

Elsewhere, the author of the Article 50 withdrawal process will say in a speech that Brexit could still be reversed and that there is a danger the electorate is being misled.

Cross-bench peer Lord Kerr, who wrote Article 50, the formal procedure for leaving the EU, will give a speech in London later in which he will say: ‘We can change our minds at any stage of the process.’

‘We are not required to withdraw just because May sent her letter [to Brussels].

‘Actually, the country still has a free choice about whether to proceed. As new facts emerge, people are entitled to take a different view. And there’s nothing in Article 50 to stop them.’

Writing in the Telegraph, May said that the decision to put the date - and time - of Brexit ‘on the front page’ of the Brexit bill showed the government was determined to see the process through.

‘Let no-one doubt our determination or question our resolve, Brexit is happening,’ the prime minister wrote.

‘It will be there in black and white on the front page of this historic piece of legislation: the United Kingdom will be leaving the EU on March 29, 2019 at 11:00pm GMT.’

The draft legislation has already passed its second reading, and now faces several attempts to amend it at the next part of its parliamentary journey - the committee stage.

May said most people wanted politicians to ‘come together’ to negotiate a good Brexit deal, adding that MPs ‘on all sides’ should help to scrutinising the bill.

She said the government would listen to MPs if they had ideas for improving the bill, but warned against attempts to halt the process.

‘We will not tolerate attempts from any quarter to use the process of amendments to this Bill as a mechanism to try to block the democratic wishes of the British people by attempting to slow down or stop our departure from the European Union.’

MPs have previously been told there have been 300 amendments and 54 new clauses proposed.

The PM said the ‘historic’ bill was ‘fundamental to delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit’ and would give ‘the greatest possible clarity and certainty for all businesses and families across the country’.

Brexit secretary David Davis said the government had attempted to remove ‘any confusion or concern about what ‘exit day’ means’.

However, the bill is facing stiff resistance from some Conservative rebels and from opposition parties, who have described it as a ‘power grab’ by the government.

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