Commons Brexit Committee submits its first report

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Andrew Heavens flickr
Committee Chairman Hilary Benn

AS MARCH draws ever closer, the world waits impatiently to hear what the UK plans for Brexit will be and now the all-party Commons Brexit committee has issued its first report.

Chaired by Labour MP (and son of former firebrand Tony Benn), Hilary Benn the report has called upon Prime Minister Theresa May to explain her plans by mid-February in order to allow parliament to review the situation.

In addition one of its main points states that MPs should be allowed to vote on the final deal and if necessary agree to an interim position rather than stick to a two year discussion limit.

It appears that Mrs May will give some indication of her position on Tuesday January 17 but it is understood that she will not go into great detail as she does not want to reveal too much until such time as the formal negotiation process has started.

The committee clearly intends to put aside party politics and has not been frightened in this its first report to lay down a number of recommendations to the government in the lead up to the triggering of Article 50.

In general terms, it wants to ensure that there are sufficient civil servants in place to allow for the negotiations and implementation of new laws and regulations to be undertaken in a timely and efficient manner and if necessary over a period longer than two years.

It wants to ensure that the rights of all EU nationals and UK citizens are detailed and agreed at an early stage and also to resolve the potential problems over the border between Eire and Northern Ireland.

Equally importantly, it strongly recommends that MPS and the devolved parliaments should be kept properly informed of government negotiations and results but also expects Britain to continue to work closely with the EU over matters of mutual importance such as defence and security.

Finally, whilst recognising that some matters will need to be kept confidential prior to and in the early stages of commencement of negotiations, it believes that the country should be alerted to decisions being made concerning the customs union and the single market.

Mr Benn was very direct in reporting the views of the committee without being overly confrontational and he summed up the situation by saying;

 “This is going to be a hugely complex task and the outcome will affect us all. The government needs to publish its Brexit plan by mid-February at the latest, including its position on membership of the single market and the customs union, so that it can be scrutinised by Parliament and the public.”

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