POLITICS

Theresa May Backs Down Over Brexit And Agrees To Publish White Paper On Plan

25/01/2017 12:42
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Theresa May has caved to pressure from opposition parties and many of her own backbenchers and agreed to publish a formal government white paper on her plans for Brexit.

Ministers had previously argued it was not needed as the prime minister’s speech last week set out what the government’s plan was.

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled May was not allowed to trigger Article 50 - the formal process of leaving the EU - without first gaining the approval of parliament.

The government is expected to publish legislation as early as tomorrow in order to allow it to begin the Brexit process by the end of March.

Several senior Tory MPs had demanded the government publish a white paper to allow the Commons to properly scrutanise the UK’s negotiating strategy and deal proposed exit deal.

Speaking during prime minister’s questions today, May backed down.”There is an appetite to see that plan set out in a white paper,” she said, confirming one would be produced.

The unexpected announcement appeared to catch Jeremy Corbyn off guard. However the Labour leader accused May of having “wasted 80 days” by fighting in the courts to prevent parliament from being given a vote on Article 50.

“Could we know this white paper is going to be available to us. And why its taken so long to get it?” he asked.

Given the result of the referendum, MPs are highly unlikely to block the start of the formal two-year exit talks.

However Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems have all indicated they will try and amend the legislation in an attempt to influence the deal.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has threatened to wage “hand-to-hand combat” with the government to prevent the Conservatives getting their own way.

“Article 50, if it it is going to be triggered, we will not get in the way of it, but we will try and amend the legislation in order to ensure that they keep coming back, that we keep an eye on them,” she told BBC Newsnight.

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