Sunday, 24 March, 2019

MPs will be able to amend final Brexit deal bill

26 Apr 2018, 00:38 ( 11 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis. File Photo Xinhua.

Lawmakers in Britain's House of Commons will be able to amend a final Brexit bill when it is placed before parliament this fall, Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis told a committee of MPs Wednesday.

   Davis, secretary of state for exiting the European Union, appeared before the House of Commons Brexit committee to update them on progress made on the transition to Britain leaving the bloc.

   During a round of intensive questioning, Davis refuted a suggestion that the government was "winging it" over Brexit.

   "No, we are not winging it but we are having to accommodate different changes as we go along," he told the committee, chaired by Labour veteran Hilary Benn.

   Davis was speaking ahead of a crucial debate by MPs over Britain's membership of the European Union customs union which allows tariff free trade across EU member states.

   Although there is a risk MPs might impose a defeat over the issue on Prime Minister Theresa May, a decision would not be binding her government.

   But political commentators say a defeat could influence May's future attitude after months of insisting that Britain would be leaving both the customs union and the European single market.

   Davis told the Brexit committee he expects government policy on Brexit to be upheld by politicians, insisting the government would win the critical looming vote on leaving the EU customs union.

   Davis also rejected reports that the EU had dismissed out of hand Britain's solutions for avoiding a hard border between Britain's Northern Ireland and Ireland. He said Britain would put forward its own wording based on "mutual recognition" of standards.

   Davis told the committee: "The general view is a free trade agreement will make the Northern Irish border issue much easier to deal with but also will protect Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland's markets and economic position."

   He acknowledged that there were hard issues involved, and the process would not be straightforward, but he said the situation was not as difficult as many people were trying to make out.

   Meanwhile, in what will be seen as a boost for May, the Cabinet Office said the British government and the Welsh regional government both confirmed Wednesday that they have reached an agreement on the European Union (withdrawal) bill that will be tabled in the British parliament.

   A government spokesman said it means the Welsh regional government will now recommend that the National Assembly for Wales pass a legislative consent motion for the bill.

   The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington welcomed the agreement, saying it was a "significant achievement that will provide legal certainty."

   But Lidington said it was disappointing that the Scottish government have not yet felt able to add their agreement to the new amendments that ministers and officials on all sides have been working on over recent weeks.