May Can Relax, There Is No Doubt Parliament Will Back Brexit

  • Prominent ‘Remainer’ Benn concedes lawmakers will back her
  • Article 50 bill up for a vote after Supreme Court ruling

UK's Hilary Benn: Parliament Will Vote to Back Brexit

Even one of most vocal and prominent supporters for keeping the U.K. in the European Union concedes there is no chance Parliament will prevent Prime Minister Theresa May from formally kickstarting Brexit.

“I have no doubt at all that the House of Commons, and following it the House of Lords, will vote to trigger Article 50, because it is essentially about whether you respect the outcome of the referendum or not,” Hilary Benn, 63, the head of the main panel of lawmakers scrutinizing the government’s Brexit policy, said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

Hilary Benn

Photographer: Carl Court/Getty Images

Benn’s words may help calm any concern among investors about what a Supreme Court ruling that Parliament be given a say will mean. Lawmakers in the lower chamber, the House of Commons, on Tuesday will begin two days of debates on a government bill to officially invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty. 

While most lawmakers in both houses may have wanted the U.K. to stay in the bloc, they’re unlikely to go against the will of the people, said Benn, who is chairman of the Exiting the European Union Committee.

May is hoping to be able to stick to her timetable of starting two years of exit talks by the end of March.

Benn, a member of the opposition Labour Party, said that Parliament “doesn’t intend to be a bystander,” meaning there will be attempts to try and shape Brexit, not stop it.

“This decision and the way in which it comes into effect is going to have huge consequences for businesses, for people’s lives, for jobs up and down the length and breadth of the U.K.,” he said. While he said it’s “unlikely” Britain will remain in the single market, he would want the country to have “as much access as possible” to it.

Labour’s ability to weigh in is marred by its own internal divisions. The party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, ordered his lawmakers to vote in favor of the bill but two have already resigned from his team over their refusal to do so.

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