Theresa May tells MPs: It's time to get on with leaving the European Union

Posted On: 
6th February 2017

Theresa May today warned MPs not to try to defy the will of the British people by holding up the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.

Theresa May addresses MPs in the House of Commons.
PA Images

The Prime Minister said it was "time to get on with" leaving the European Union as parliament began debating nearly 150 pages of proposed amendments to the Government's Article 50 bill.

MPs were expected to sit past midnight tonight, followed by a further two days of debate before the final vote on the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill on Wednesday evening.

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Downing Street has made clear its reluctance to accept any amendments to the 137-word bill.

Updating the Commons on the EU summit she attended last week in Malta, Mrs May said: "Our European partners now want to get on with negotiations, so do I and so does this House, which last week voted by a majority of 384 in support of the Government triggering Article 50.

"The message is clear to all - this house has spoken and now is not the time to obstruct the democratically expressed wishes of the British people, it is time to get on with leaving the EU and building an independent, self-governing, global Britain."

Among the amendments being considered by MPs is a call for the Government to guarantee that EU citizens already living in the UK will be allowed to stay after Brexit.

Mrs May said she hoped to strike a deal with the rest of the EU early in the Brexit negotiations, which would also allow British citizens living in Europe to stay there as well.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "It is within this government's gift to guarantee the rights of EU citizens to remain in this country.

"There is no need to wait for negotiations to begin, the Government could do it now. This is not a question about Brexit, it's a question about human rights, democracy and decency."