House of Commons, the lower house of British Parliament passed legislation on 8 February 2017, authorising Prime Minister Theresa May’s government to initiate Brexit talks with the European Union.
The historic legislation witnessed 494 Members of the Parliament voting in favour of Brexit and just 122 against. Among the MPs who voted against the bill, 52 were labour MPs, the leading opposition party, who went against their party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s orders of backing the bill.
Few of the pro- European legislators even whistled European Union’s anthem, Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ while the votes were being tallied.
• Though the members of the lower house had already shown overwhelming support to the bill in its initial reading, the final votes were cast following a seven-hour debate on amendments.
• The bill was passed with no changes.
• It will now be sent to the second chamber of UK Parliament, House of Lords, also known as the upper house of the British Parliament.
• The House of Lords will be posed with two options:
- Approve the bill after several readings and debates and pass it on for royal assent to be turned into a law.
- Make amendments and send the bill back to the House of Commons for further debate and votes.
• At most, the upper house can force the lower house to reconsider their decision but it cannot prevent the bill from being passed.
• So, the bill is most likely to become a law within the coming few weeks, right as per the deadline set by Theresa May.
The British Prime Minister has vowed to set off Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the legal method to start Britain’s exit from the EU, by the end of March 2017.
According to David Davis, the Secretary of State for exiting the EU, the final legislation was preceded by a healthy and serious debate with contributions from MPs representing all parts of the UK. He further added that the Brexit decision was taken by the people of Britain and so, it is vital for everyone to now unite to make the task successful.