Brexit Scrutiny Role in Balance as Lawmakers Prepare to Vote

  • Hilary Benn and Kate Hoey vying to lead EU exit committee
  • SNP’s Angus MacNeil to chair international trade panel

Hilary Benn and Kate Hoey, both lawmakers for the opposition Labour Party, will vie to lead the House of Commons panel scrutinizing arrangements for Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Lawmakers will vote Wednesday on whether Hoey, who supported Brexit, or Benn, who favored staying in the bloc, should lead the Exiting the EU Committee, Parliament said in an e-mailed statement. The result will be announced by the speaker the same afternoon.

Angus MacNeil, a member of the pro-“Remain” Scottish National Party, will lead the International Trade Committee, scrutinizing the work of Trade Secretary Liam Fox. The chairmanship of committees is divided between the different parties in Parliament and he was the sole nominee of SNP lawmakers.

The election of either Benn or Hoey would result in different approaches to the Brexit negotiations, which will start with the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty before the end of March 2017. Hoey was a vocal advocate for “Leave,” while Benn was fired as Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman for criticizing party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s lackluster performance in the “Remain” campaign and calling for him to be replaced.

“I campaigned for Remain, but I believe we must respect the British people’s decision, implement it and get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom,” Benn said in a statement. “Our aim should be to minimize the risks and uncertainty for business, protect the things that the British people value and make the most of the opportunities.”

Benn was nominated by leading “Remain” campaigners, including former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Angela Eagle, who was the first to run against Corbyn for the leadership, while Clive Lewis, the party’s business spokesman, is among Hoey’s supporters.

“Parliament must be able to scrutinize the government’s plans to give reassurance to the public and the wider world,” Hoey said. “I campaigned passionately for a ‘Leave’ vote, and agree that those of us who did so have a particular responsibility to make a success of it.”

Other committee chairmanships up for election on Wednesday include those for Culture, Media and Sport, Home Affairs and Science and Technology. Only candidates from the same party can contest each of the five posts.

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