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EU Withdrawal Bill: ‘Get ready for WAR’ May ordered to prepare for Brexit battle | Politics | News

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Both Labour members and rebel Tories are gearing up to inflict a number of defeats on Mrs May as they go over the fine print of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

The start of the committee stage this afternoon kicks off eight days of line-by-line scrutiny of the Brexit legislation in the run-up to Christmas. 

It begins with four hours of debate on the timing of when the UK leaves the EU.

That will be followed by another marathon four-hour debate on whether the Scottish and Welsh governments should get a bigger say in the process.

Eight days have been scheduled for the committee stage, with the first two taking place today and tomorrow. 

And the remaining six will see the most contentious debates, with MPs set to discuss so-called Henry VIII powers – allowing the Government to make minor amendments without parliamentary scrutiny – on Tuesday.

The Bill must then come back to the Commons for report stage and third reading, before heading to the Lords, where it is likely to face further tough scrutiny. 

And without an overall majority in the Commons, the Prime Minister is vulnerable to rebellions by Tory backbenchers, some of whom have grave misgivings about the whole Brexit process.

Follow below for live updates.

4.05pm GMT:

Jacob Rees-Mogg says that a transitional period for leaving the EU would defeat the entire purpose of the Withdrawal Bill.

He says the difference between a transition period, as advocated by the Labour Party, and an implementation period advocated by the Conservative Party, is crucial.

The implementation period would allow the Government to implement changes in the wake of Britain leaving the EU.

However during a transitional period Britain would still be a de facto member of the EU and it would be harder to make changes.

He was intervening in a speech by shadow Brexit minister Paul Blomfield, who said the concrete exit date would close down the possibility of a smooth transition.

4pm GMT:

Paul Blomfield, the LabourMP for Sheffield Central, says the British people voted “to pull out, not to miss out”. 

He says there should be provision for the Government to extend negotiations if they are close to a deal, but not able to finalise one by the end of the Article 50 period.

He accuses the Conservatives of “appeasing extremists in their party, not thinking of the consequences for the country” by enshrining the exit date in law.

3.45pm GMT:

Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve has pointed out that there is provision in Article 50 that would allow the Government to extend the EU exit date.

He expressed concerns that setting a concrete exit date could come back to hurt Britain’s negotiating team later on.

The Brexit Undersecretary Steve Baker says other MPs had asked for clarity, which has now been given by the amendment setting the exit date at 29 March 2019, at 11pm.

Peter Bone has asked whether the exit date enshrined in the bill could be changed at a later date.

Responding, Mr Baker says it could not be changed at a later date.

3.30pm GMT:

Labour Brexiteer Frank Field has demanded Theresa May form a Brexit “war cabinet” if she really cares about the national interest.

Mr Field, the MP for Birkenhead, said he had been “disappointed” in the negotiations so far and called on Mrs May to change tactics.

He told the Commons: “I don’t believe there’s the sense of importance or drive or coherence that this issue merits. 

“I’ve argued before that anyone serious about comparing this historic event to us fighting for survival in World War II would have followed the move that Churchill made once he took over from Chamberlain.

“He would have moved from the ramshackle way of existing institutions and establish a war cabinet.”

He added: “I think we need a Brexit cabinet; small, with an offer to the opposition to be on it, which in wartime Mr Attlee accepted.

“It will be a test of whether we’re intent on the best possible terms, whether we have a clear position or not, and whether we’re putting our country first.”

My Field said a cross-party solution would help to “steer this debate in the national interest.”

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