UK says lawmakers to get vote on Brexit before deal approved

AP News
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Posted: Feb 07, 2017 1:17 PM
UK says lawmakers to get vote on Brexit before deal approved

LONDON (AP) — Britain's government appeared to bow to opposition pressure Tuesday, saying lawmakers will get to vote on a European Union exit deal before it is finalized by the bloc.

Brexit Minister David Jones told the House of Commons that Parliament would get to approve the deal "before it is concluded" and before the European Parliament votes on it.

He said that the vote will cover Britain's withdrawal arrangements and its future relationship with the EU.

Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, called the announcement a "huge and very important concession," but demanded more details.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the vote would be meaningless unless Parliament was given the power to send the government back to the EU negotiating table. Otherwise, rejecting the deal could mean chaotically forcing Britain out of the bloc without any new arrangements in place.

Opposition legislators want to amend legislation authorizing the start of EU exit talks, seeking to ensure they get a say on the final deal. But they're unlikely to stop the bill, since a majority of legislators say they will support it out of respect for voters' decision to leave the bloc.

The government wants to pass the bill through Parliament by early March and trigger Article 50 of the EU's key treaty — starting a two-year EU divorce process — by March 31.

Meanwhile, Scotland's parliament voted 90-34 against triggering Article 50. The vote is largely symbolic, however. Britain's Supreme Court has ruled that the U.K. government doesn't have to consult legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland before it starts the formal process of leaving the EU.