United Kingdom parliament debates Brexit bill

The House of Commons is expected to sit late into the night both today and tomorrow as MPs make their contributions to the debate - Conservative MPs have been told by their party whips to remain on site until midnight in case of any need for a vote in the chamber.

One MP engaged in cross-party discussions said there was a reluctance of Tory MPs to step out of line, but there were some who were still thinking of ways to use this bill to nudge May away from the hardest Brexit path.

Kicking off the debate, Brexit Secretary David Davis said legislators had to answer a simple question: "Do we trust the people or not?"

If approved it will enable British Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger article 50, the process for quitting the European Union, by the end of March.

He said: "In all likelihood [it] would return a Conservative Government with an increased majority to enact any form of departure they wish - an outcome I think the present Commons makeup gives us a reasonable chance of avoiding".

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, a former cabinet office minister who has returned to parliament from maternity leave this week to vote for the Brexit Bill, said: "Brexit is now the central issue of our times".

Brexit Secretary David Davis has urged MPs to "trust the people" and get on with passing legislation that will enable Britain to leave the European Union, as the Commons prepares for the first of five days of debate that will culminate in the deciding vote on Article 50.

Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger said: "By a majority of eight to three, the Supreme Court today rules that the government can not trigger Article 50 without an act of Parliament authorising it to do so".

They said the bill would be sent to the Lords unchanged and that would add pressure to senior Labour figures in considering voting against it.

'As such, I respectfully disagree with those who maintain that, whatever the potential negative social and political implications, MPs should seek to overturn the result'.

Opening the debate on the parliamentary bill that will give Prime Minister Theresa May the go ahead with Brexit, David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union told parliamentarians they could not block the process.

"Although the likely outcome of the Brexit negotiations remains unclear, businesses still see Europe as a primary market for both selling and sourcing inputs - even after the United Kingdom leaves the EU".

Despite this, the second reading of the bill is likely to be passed with a big majority on Wednesday.

But Mr Davis warned MPs they would not be able to vote to block Brexit, telling them the "point of no return" had already passed. This is when opposition parties could try to push through amendments.

Explaining her position, she said she does no want to "stand in the way" of triggering Article 50, but believes trade with Europe is "vital".

Some MPs believe she could once again wrong foot Mr Corbyn by announcing at PMQs that she will do this, with publication of the white paper coming as early as this Thursday.

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