(Adds further comment on timing)
LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - The British government will take its time to consider amendments passed by the upper house of parliament to the EU withdrawal bill, but will not shelve the key piece of Brexit legislation, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman said on Thursday.
May’s government was dealt 15 defeats in the House of Lords over the withdrawal bill which will allow Britain to sever its ties with the European Union in March next year.
The process of trying to overturn those defeats in the lower house of parliament is expected to test May’s authority over her divided party, and her ability to get the legislation passed with the wafer-thin working majority she has courtesy of a deal with a small Northern Irish party.
Quashing speculation that the government could duck this showdown by postponing further debate on the bill, the spokeswoman said it was likely to be discussed “within weeks rather than months.”
Sources involved in the legislative process have previously told Reuters the government wanted the legislation passed before parliament’s Summer recess which begins on July 24. Once the bill has passed, officials will have the power to begin the lengthy process of transposing EU laws into British laws. (Reporting by William James, editing by Elizabeth Piper)