British MPs have passed a historic legislation to delay Article 50, forcing the Prime Minister Theresa May’s government to set out its timetable for the length of the Brexit delay in order to prevent the UK exiting the European Union (EU) without a deal.
The EU Withdrawal (No 5) Act passed its final stages in the House of Lords just after 11 p.m. on Monday, forcing May to extend Article 50 — the legal mechanism through which Brexit is taking place, reports the Guardian.
The legislation devised by opposition Labour MP Yvette Cooper and the ruling Conservative party’s Oliver Letwin was earlier approved by the Commons on Monday evening by 392 votes to 85 – a majority of 307.
Under the terms of the new act, the government must table a motion to agree the length of extension the Prime Minister will seek from the EU.
The swift passage of the legislation, which took just three sitting days to complete, was made possible by the success of an unprecedented amendment which allowed MPs to seize control of parliamentary business on particular days, meaning the government could not block its progress.
May has already pledged to seek an extension until June 30 but the government opposed the legislation, fearing the precedent it would set for the Backbenchers (MPs who are not ministers or shadow ministers) to be able to pass bills.
On Monday night in the wake of the bill’s approval, the government tabled its motion setting out May’s intention to seek an extension until June 30. That is set to be debated and potentially amended in the Commons on Tuesday.
“We are committed to finding a way through in order to ensure we can leave the EU and deliver on the referendum. That will require the parties to work at pace in order to address outstanding issues — and so ministers and their shadow counterparts will be holding talks (Tuesday),” CNN quoted a Downing Street spokesman as saying.
Meanwhile, May will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday ahead of her meeting with EU leaders on Wednesday night to discuss the embattled Prime Minister’s request to move the Brexit deadline, which is set for Friday, April 12.