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UK lawmakers back key Brexit bill

By Cecily Liu in London | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-13 07:42

LONDON - The British government's bid to remove European Union law in time for Brexit has passed its first parliamentary test.

Members of Parliament voted 326 to 290 on Tuesday in favor of the EU Withdrawal Bill after more than 13 hours of debate in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the vote, saying it offered "certainty and clarity".

"Earlier this morning Parliament took a historic decision to back the will of the British people and vote for a bill which gives certainty and clarity ahead of our withdrawal from the European Union," May said in a statement.

Justice Secretary David Lidington said the bill would "enable us to have a coherent and functioning statute book" on the day the UK leaves the EU.

The withdrawal bill, which will end the supremacy of EU law in the United Kingdom, now moves onto its next parliamentary stage.

It overturns the 1972 European Communities Act which took the UK into the then European Economic Community.

Created to ensure business continuity on and after Brexit, the bill ensures all existing EU laws are converted into UK law. Once implemented, the UK Parliament can amend, repeal and improve the laws as necessary.

But critics of the bill said it represents a "power grab" by ministers.

Conservative MPs backed the bill, while all but seven opposition Labour MPs voted against it.

Labour's Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, called the result "deeply disappointing".

Although they gave the bill their backing, many Conservative lawmakers warned May that their support for the government's Brexit legislation is not unconditional. Some demanded significant changes to the bill within minutes of backing it.

The bill is likely to be "one of the largest legislative projects ever undertaken in the UK", according to a report by the House of Commons library.

The UK voted by 52 percent in favor to leave the EU in a referendum held in June last year.

(China Daily 09/13/2017 page12)

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