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British PM challenges lawmakers to back her Brexit timetable

  • Published at 10:15 pm December 8th, 2016
British PM challenges lawmakers to back her Brexit timetable
British Prime Minister Theresa May secured a symbolic victory on Brexit on Wednesday after MPs agreed not to delay her plans to begin the EU exit talks by the end of March, although she had to promise to give them more details of her negotiating strategy. The opposition Labour party’s original motion demanded the government publish its “plan” before triggering EU Article 50, which begins the two-year exit process. This motion had been expected to draw support from dozens of May’s Conservative MPs but the premier fended off a rebellion with a last-minute amendment, accepting the Labour motion on condition that MPs support her timetable for triggering the Brexit talks. Lawmakers voted 461 in favour of the amendment, backing May’s timeline to trigger the divorce negotiations with Brussels by March 31, 2017. A total of 89 MPs voted against that amendment, in which May agreed to provide further details on her negotiating strategy before triggering Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, with the results announced in parliament. A second vote saw 448 lawmakers support the motion in its entirety, with the amendment, while 75 lawmakers voted against. The House of Commons vote is not binding and the government is still fighting a challenge at the Supreme Court against moves to give parliament the final say on starting the Brexit process. Following the results MP Hilary Benn, from the opposition Labour Party, said he hoped the vote would prompt the government to give more information on its plans for negotiating Britain’s future outside the European Union. “When they have said they are going to publish a plan, I expect to see some detail. “Parliament doesn’t intend to be a bystander, parliament intends to be a participant,” he told BBC News. Iain Duncan Smith, from the ruling Conservative Party, said the vote was “a very historic moment” which enabled the government to act on Brexit. “The government now has a blank cheque, and I think that’s a good thing,” he told Sky News. May has so far refused to give a “running commentary” on her strategy, insisting that revealing her hand prematurely would undermine the negotiations.