Theresa May reportedly has four Article 50 bills ready to publish
When will MPs vote on Article 50?
The Supreme Court has ruled 8-3 that Mrs May cannot use the Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 without the consent of Parliament.
A Government insider has revealed that an Article 50 bill could be published by the end of this week.
The “well-placed source” told The Independent: “We need to look at the issues that arise and after that we can make a decision pretty swiftly. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the Bill to be published later in the week.”
Reportedly the Government has been working on four different drafts of the bill, with the court ruling to dictate which one is used.
A separate high court case which claims that the Government must trigger a separate piece of legislation, article 127 of the EEA agreement, to leave the European Economic Area could also have an effect on the wording of the bill.
The source continued: “It’s an advantage to have a short bill, in a sense that it is clear and, of course, it makes it more difficult to amend.
“The disadvantages are, there may be other litigations going on, about the European Economic Area for example, and whether there’s a possibility that case could cause complications for a narrow piece of legislation, with some believing it may mean you then need further legislation down the line.”
The landmark legislation is expected to be as short as possible to make it harder for opposition MPs to amend and to limit the breadth of debate.
In the coming days, the bill will have its first reading. This can take place at any time in a parliamentary session and is simply an announcement of the bill’s short title.
Within the next two weeks there will be a second reading in the Commons, which gives MPs an opportunity to debate the wording of the bill.
Following the second reading there will be a committee stage where the bill is examined in detail. The length of this examination will depend on how many amendments are proposed and how detailed the bill is.
A report will be given following the committee stage, followed by a third and final reading after which the Commons will vote.
The same process will then be repeated in the House of Lords and peers will be given a say on the final wording of the bill.
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If the Lords proposes any amendments, the bill will return to the Commons for further consideration. It is possible that the bill could “ping-pong” between the two houses until an agreement is reached, although the expected brevity of the bill should mean a straightforward passage into law.
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Will MPs vote for Article 50?
Kier Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, has said that his party is likely to seek amendments to any Article 50 bill that is tabled.
He told The Independent that the party will likely demand that Mrs May publish her plan in a command document so that it can be scrutinised and debated in Parliament.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will order MPs to vote for the Government’s bill, saying: “We will not block article 50.”
Last month, 23 Labour MPs voted against triggering Article 50 by the end of March in a Commons vote, along with five Liberal Democrats and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas.
Fifty-one members of the SNP voted against Brexit and are expected to do so again.
Scotland’s Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland's Place in Europe has said: "I don't think there is any possibility of the SNP MPs supporting the Article 50 bill.”
Conservative MPs will be whipped into voting for Article 50, although some backbenchers are thought to want greater scrutiny than has been offered.
Ken Clarke, the former Chancellor, has said that he “may be, probably, possibly, the only Conservative who votes against Article 50”.