David Davis suggested the Government is braced for the House of Lords to delay the Article 50 Bill
On a trip to Sweden, the Brexit Secretary dismissed suggestions Theresa May could invoke Article 50 notification of the UK’s exit from the EU ahead of a two-day European Council summit beginning on March 9.
The Government’s proposed Article 50 Bill, which would hand the Prime Minister the power to begin divorce talks, is set to be debated by the House of Lords next week.
If left unamended by unelected peers, the Bill could be ratified and pass into law on March 7.
This has led to suggestions Mrs May could travel to a gathering of EU leaders in Brussels two days later with her Article 50 letter.
But Mr Davis, speaking at joint press conference in Stockholm alongside Sweden’s EU minister Ann Linde, played down those claims and suggested ministers are braced for a parliamentary battle over Article 50.
I expect it to be resolved in good time before the end of March
Asked whether Britain’s Article 50 notification would come before the start of the EU summit, the Cabinet minister replied: “The 9th or 10th is not a date I recognise in terms of our timetable. What we have said is by the end of March, sometime during March.
"I'm confident that we'll do it before our timetable but not necessarily before the one you played out.”
Mr Davis suggested the Government is expecting the passage of the Article 50 Bill to be delayed by peers in a process known as ‘ping pong’.
The Brexit Secretary held talks with Sweden's EU minister Ann Linde
If the House of Lords adds amendments to the proposed legislation, it will return to the House of Commons for MPs to vote on again before being passed back to the upper house.
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The Brexit Secretary revealed he expects “we'll have some passing backwards and forwards” between the two Houses over the Article 50 Bill, but added: “I expect it to be resolved in good time before the end of March.”
Mr Davis insisted the parliamentary timetable had been factored into the Prime Minister’s self-imposed Article 50 deadline when she made the vow last October.