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EU Withdrawal Bill delayed amid Tory rebellion fears

Liz Bates

2 min read

Plans to bring the EU Withdrawal Bill back to the Commons next week have been ditched amid fears of a major Tory rebellion.

The Government is anticipating significant opposition among Conservative MPs on around a dozen amendments, threatening Theresa May’s fragile Commons majority.

MPs have previously raised concerns over so-called "Henry VIII powers" contained in the Bill, which will allow ministers to make legislative changes without full parliamentary scrutiny.

The latest blow for Mrs May comes after Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, warned about the "very disturbing" deadlock on the Brexit negotiations, and said insufficient progress had been made for trade talks to begin.

It has also emerged that International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has spoken of her alarm at the lack of progress in the talks.

The former French finance minister said she could not "imagine" the UK crashing out of the EU without a formal trade agreement, and warned about the effect the uncertainty was having on the global economy.

Speaking in Washington to mark the start of the IMF’s annual meeting, Ms Lagarde said: “Brexit is an ongoing process and our hope is that it be conducted promptly to reduce the level of uncertainty and the anxiety of people about the outcome and the situation of people first, of business second. Because this is affecting the people and the businesses."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the EU is to begin preparing for negotiations on its trading relationship with Britain.

A draft document seen by the BBC suggests the other 27 European Union countries should discuss trade among themselves while officials in Brussels prepare the details.

British officials believe the move is a signal that a breakthrough is finally imminent, and that preliminary trade talks can begin before the end of the year.

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