October 19, 2017 / 10:43 AM / a year ago

UK Brexit bill not scheduled for debate in parliament next week

Andrea Leadsom, Britain's Leader of the House of Commons, arrives in Downing Street for a cabinet meeting in London, October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s parliament will not discuss the key European Union withdrawal bill next week, the leader of the lower House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, said on Thursday, amid concerns the government is struggling to manage divisions over its contents.

The bill is at the heart of the government’s Brexit strategy. It will transpose EU law into British law at the point of Britain’s departure from the bloc and repeal the 1972 act of parliament which made it a member.

Lawmakers have proposed hundreds of changes to the bill, some of which have enough backing from lawmakers within Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party to defeat the government - something that would cause May a major headache and question her ability to complete the Brexit process.

“There is nothing odd or anything to fear from this slight pause,” Leadsom told lawmakers. She promised them there would be eight days of debate on the bill but did not say when they would start.

The BBC reported on Wednesday that the government might delay the bill’s passage through parliament until next month because of political divisions.

The bill has already passed its first stage of the legislative process, but is expected to face a stiffer challenge when it is next debated.

It has been criticised by lawmakers who say it gives the government too much power to amend EU laws as they are transferred onto the British statute book. Others want safeguards to ensure the government cannot walk away from negotiations without parliament’s approval.

Reporting by William James and Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison

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