British lawmakers on Wednesday backed the European Union Bill allowing Prime Minister Theresa May to go ahead and trigger the Article 50 exit clause of the Lisbon treaty, reported Reuters. Article 50 allows a member state to leave the European Union.
The House of Commons voted 498 to 114 in favour of allowing the Bill to progress. On January 24, the Supreme Court had ruled that she cannot start the procedure without a parliamentary vote.
With this approval, May can begin the legal procedure to take Britain out of the bloc. The Bill has now been sent for committee consideration, following which it will be returned to the House of Commons for a final vote. It will then be sent to Parliament’s Upper Chamber, the House of Lords.
May wants to begin exit negotiations with the 28-nation bloc by March 31.
The Scottish National Party spokesperson said the vote was a “devastating act of sabotage on Scotland’s economy”. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called the result “absolutely momentous”, and said the United Kingdom will now be able to “forge a new identity”, reported BBC.
This decision came two days after heated debates in the House of Commons during which May had urged the lawmakers to back the decision to leave the EU. “They [British citizens] made their choice, they want to leave the EU. The question every member must ask themselves as they go through the lobbies tonight is, ‘do they trust the people?’” she had said on Tuesday.
Lawmakers who had voted to remain in the EU said that despite their own reservations, they would respect the will of the people, reported AP. The British government said it will publish a White Paper on Thursday outlining the strategy for withdrawal.
The UK had voted to leave the EU in a referendum on June 24, 2016, after which David Cameron, who had campaigned for the country to remain in the bloc, resigned as prime minister. The UK government had rejected a petition calling for a second referendum. May took charge on July 11 to implement the result of the vote along with her team.