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Leaving the Continent (Hindu)

The contested road map of the U.K.’s Brexit Bill

What is the Article 50 Bill?

The Withdrawal from the European Union (Article 50) Bill or "Brexit Bill” is legislation that is currently being considered by the U.K. Parliament to authorise the British government to invoke Article 50 — notification of the country’s exit from the European Union (EU).

Where does the Bill currently stand?

The Brexit Bill was passed without amendment by the elected House of Commons. In separate votes, each with a large majority, the House of Lords backed two amendments to the Bill. The first amendment required the U.K. to unilaterally preserve the existing rights of EU citizens already resident in the country, and the second gives Parliament a veto on the final terms of the Brexit deal.

What are the arguments for and against the EU citizens’ rights amendment?

Those who support preserving the EU-derived rights of some 3.2 million EU citizens resident in the U.K. argue that there is a strong moral case for it – not making bargaining chips out of people.

There is an economic argument as well — uncertainty over their futures could mean workers leaving the U.K., adversely impacting businesses and the economy.

The government does not want EU citizens’ rights guaranteed before the rights of Britons resident in the EU are secured.

What are the arguments for and against the amendment regarding the Brexit deal’s terms?

The Prime Minister has said she would give Parliament a vote on the final deal. This would entail the deal being presented as a fait accompli; Parliament would then have to take it or leave it. (The Prime Minister has also said she would rather have no deal than a bad deal).

The amendment requires the Prime Minister to have the terms of the deal approved by both Houses of Parliament – failing which she will have to go back to the negotiating table.

Critics of the amendment say this will constrict Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiating ability and provide incentives for the EU side to offer Britain a bad deal. They also say it subverts the will of the people which was ascertained via the referendum. Supporters of the amendment say that it places Parliament back at the heart of the process and protects the interests of the 48% who voted to remain in the EU in last year’s referendum.


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