UK POLITICS: Theresa May ‘Will Trigger Article 50 on March 15’
A defiant Theresa May is determined to push ahead and trigger Article 50 within two weeks as planned despite suffering her first Parliamentary defeat over Brexit.
The House of Lords last night defied the Prime Minister as they voted to give EU nationals the right to stay in the UK.
Labour peers joined with Lib Dems and crossbenchers to crush the Government 358 to 256.
They agreed to amend the Brexit Bill – which gives Mrs May the power to trigger Article 50 – so that it guarantees residency rights.
Labour’s Brexit spokeswoman in the Lords Baroness Hayter accused the Government of using EU citizens in the UK as “negotiating capital” to win rights for Brits abroad.
But Tory counterpart Lord Bridges said it was wrong to guarantee rights until is deal is done for British expats.
Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said: “For months Labour has been urging the Prime Minister to end the uncertainty.”
The bill will be sent back to the Commons, but Mrs May has vowed to overturn the amendment – then send the bill back in its original form.
Despite the setback, ministers are confident they remain on course to meet Mrs May’s deadline for invoking Article 50, marking the start of the formal process of EU withdrawal.
A spokesman for the Brexit Department said: “The Bill has a straightforward purpose – to enact the referendum result and allow the Government to get on with the negotiations.”
The Bill is now expected to return to the Commons on March 13 and 14 where a similar amendment was defeated by the Government.
If MPs again reject the amendment it will then “ping pong” back to the Lords where senior opposition peers have indicated they will not seek to defeat the Government again, potentially allowing Mrs May to invoke Article 50 on March 15.