The Brexit Bill has passed its first test - so what's next?

The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill might have passed its first test in the British House of Commons, but there’s still a long road ahead with the big battles still to come.

Here’s what’s going to happen next in the life of Brexit Bill:

Second reading

The committee stage from Monday to Wednesday next week is when MPs will scrutinise the Bill in detail and put forward amendments for votes.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has ordered his MPs to back the Bill at the second reading (though that didn’t go so well for him with the first), and his party will try to add safeguards to it next week.

The Liberal Dems’ main aim is to bag a second referendum on the final deal achieved by Theresa May, and they’ll vote against triggering Article 50 if they cannot achieve it.

The Scottish National Party, which is opposed to Brexit, is expected to come up with dozens of amendments.

Remain-backers and ultra-Eurosceptics on the Tory backbenches could also attempt to tweak the Bill.

But May is probably pretty confident about the whole thing, since the majority of Labour fundamentally support the triggering of Article 50 by April in line with her plan of action.

Third reading

Then the Bill will go on to the third and final Commons stage, which is expected on Wednesday February 8.

This will give MPs a final chance to say whether they approve of the Bill or not before it passes to the House of Lords, where the stages are repeated.

House of Lords

The British government may find this side of things slightly trickier because it doesn’t have a majority.

Labour has already said it will examine (but not block) the UK government’s plans, and the Lib Dems are keen to guarantee a fresh referendum on the final deal.

However, the party only has 102 peers compared with 253 Tories out of a total 805.

The Bill is expected to complete its passage by Tuesday March 7 – but if peers have made amendments, it will go back to the Commons, where MPs will debate whether to keep those changes or get rid of them.

Ping-pong

Yep, that’s the actual name for this stage where the Bill goes back and forth between the Houses until an agreement is finally reached on the final text.

Understandably, this is the most likely stage for the Bill to be held up as it’s possible peers could get a bit cocky with time running out for the British government to hit its timetable.

However, members in both Houses will be clearly aware that they risk accusations that they’re going against the will of the people if they delay.

Plus peers have already been warned to “tread carefully”, given that they are unelected parliamentarians.

And so Bill’s quest continues…

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