Brexit Secretary David Davis presented the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill to the House of Commons today, with it expected to move through Parliament before Theresa May's deadline of March 31 to trigger Article 50.
The Bill follows the Supreme Court's ruling this week the Prime Minister must first gain the consent of MPs and peers before beginning EU divorce negotiations.
— Stewart Jackson MP (@Stewart4Pboro) January 26, 2017
Mr Davis said: "The British people have made the decision to leave the EU and this government is determined to get on with the job of delivering it.
“So today we have introduced a Bill in Parliament which will allow us to formally trigger Article 50 by the end of March.
“I trust that Parliament, which backed the referendum by six to one, will respect the decision taken by the British people and pass the legislation quickly.”
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David Davis introduced the Bill to give the PM the power to trigger Article 50
We have introduced a Bill in Parliament which will allow us to formally trigger Article 50 by the end of March
Opposition MPs are likely to try and add amendments to the short 133-word Bill, which states the Prime Minister "may notify, under Article 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the EU".
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer confirmed Labour would add at least one amendment requiring the Government to report back to MPs every two months during Brexit negotiations.
Tory MP Stewart Jackson hailed "an historic day" following the publication of the Bill.
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Earlier, Leader of the House of Commons David Lidington revealed the Bill would be read for a second time on Tuesday with a final vote by MPs expected on February 8 before it passes to the House of Lords.
Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs are expected to vote against the Bill, likely to be joined by some Labour MPs.
Peers have been warned the Government could revive attempts to curb the powers of the House of Lords if it attempts to delay or block Article 50.
A number of Labour MPs hit out at the amount of time they have given to debate the Bill, with Chuka Umunna accusing the Government of trying to "muzzle" the House of Commons.
Labour's former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie, a supporter of the pro-EU Open Britain campaign, said: “The Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the courts to bring this bill before Parliament and yet they still seem determined to gag parliamentarians as much as possible.
“It is simply unacceptable for Ministers to try and railroad this incredibly important law through Parliament without sufficient time for proper debate.
“It beggars belief that we will have far less time to debate the legislation that takes us out of the EU than we did previous European treaties.
“This is the most significant law we’ve ever debated on our relationship with Europe and yet the Government will only give it an eighth of the time that was spent on the Maastricht Treaty.”
Mr Davis has refused to confirm whether the Government will publish a White Paper setting out the Government's Brexit negotiating aims before MPs debate the Article 50 Bill.
Commenting on the publication of the Bill, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “This Bill is short and not sweet. Given how long he’s been campaigning to leave the EU, it’s amazing this 133 word bill took David Davis such long time - that’s only 5 words a day since Brexit.
“Take back control was a mantra of the Leave campaign, but this Government’s extreme reluctance to involve Parliament in this process has instead been an affront to parliamentary sovereignty and democracy.
“With Labour totally confused over Brexit and the Conservatives determined to take us out of Europe and the Single Market at any cost, only the Liberal Democrats are fighting for full membership of the Single Market and a public vote on the final deal.”