EU-exit bill advances in Parliament

LONDON -- British lawmakers voted a key bill on its exit from the European Union past its first big hurdle in Parliament early today. But many legislators branded the bill a government power grab and vowed to change it before it becomes law.

After a debate that stretched past midnight London time, the House of Commons backed the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill by a vote of 326 to 290. That means lawmakers approve the bill in principle, but the government will now face attempts to amend it before a final vote later this year.

A key plank in the Conservative government's EU-exit plans, the bill aims to convert thousands of EU laws and regulations into U.K. domestic laws on the day Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

Since Britain joined the EU in 1973, thousands of EU laws and regulations have come to operate in the U.K., covering everything from the environment to employment rules.

Justice Secretary David Lidington told lawmakers that the bill is needed to ensure Britain has "a functioning and coherent statute book and regulatory system the day we leave."

Critics say the bill gives the government too much power because it allows ministers to fix "deficiencies" in EU law without the parliamentary scrutiny usually needed to make or amend legislation.

A Section on 09/12/2017

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