Lawmakers to May: Give Us the Davis Brexit Plan by Mid-February

  • Brexit panel insists Parliament must vote on final exit deal
  • Lawmakers urge guarantees for EU nationals, passporting rights

Lawmakers have had enough of waiting on Brexit Secretary David Davis to deliver a promised plan on how the U.K. will leave the European Union. They want it within the next month.

Even with Prime Minister Theresa May set to deliver a major speech on Brexit on Tuesday, Parliament has been kept largely in the dark over what kind of road map her government will embark on and how it will negotiate things like access to the single market.

The main parliamentary panel scrutinizing Brexit released its first report on Saturday and urged Davis to hurry up. He told Committee Chairman Hilary Benn’s panel last month that he won’t be able to publish it this month because “the policy work is still under way and there are quite a few decisions still to be made.” He also declined to guarantee the strategy will be in the form of a so-called White Paper, which sets out proposals for future legislation.

“We’re not asking the government to give away its red lines or negotiating fall-back positions, but we do want clarity on its broad aims given the significance and complexity of the negotiating task,” Benn said. The document promised by Davis “must be published by mid-February to give Parliament and the devolved governments time to scrutinize it.”

Passporting, EU Nationals

The 21-person panel also wants to see guarantees for EU nationals living in the country and for global banks with bases in London to be able to keep providing financial services to the rest of Europe.

The government has come under growing pressure to reveal its negotiating priorities before the divorce process begins by the end of March. Markets are antsy, and May’s comments on Sunday that Brexit wasn’t “about keeping bits of membership” sent the pound falling because it suggested she would give up membership of the single market.

To prevent an exodus of companies if a final trade deal can’t be forged within the two-year time frame for exit talks outlined in the Treaty of Lisbon, the cross-party panel asked for transitional arrangements to be in place.

“What will be important is that the industry has confidence that any new arrangements will enable them to carry on doing business,” the Exiting the EU Committee wrote. All “benefit from the presence in London of a world class financial services hub and ensuring that there is minimal disruption to services from Brexit will be important for broader European financial stability.”

It’s also important, the panel said, for Parliament to be able to weigh in.

“This is going to be a hugely complex task and the outcome will affect us all,” Committee Chairman Hilary Benn said in a statement. “Whatever deal is concluded, Parliament must be given a vote on it and the government should make this clear now.”

May declined three times to say whether Parliament would be given a vote on the final Brexit deal when grilled by Benn during testimony to its Liaison Committee on Dec. 20.

Before Brexit, the government plans to pass a Great Repeal Bill, which will enshrine existing EU law in British law once the divorce is complete. At that time, lawmakers will have “every opportunity” to vote, she said.

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